Helminth Infections: A Threat to Children's Health in Indonesia

DetailsFriday, 31 May 2024
DetailsProf. dr. Ayodhia Pitaloka Pasaribu M.Ked(Ped), Sp.A(K), Ph.D(CTM)

"Worms are small animals that are often underestimated because they are considered harmless. However, despite their small size, worms can cause human health problems. Soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) is a source of disease caused by parasitic worms that live in the soil and can infect humans."

“STH triggers one of the most neglected tropical diseases that affect around 2 billion people worldwide,” said Pediatrician at the Universitas Sumatera Utara Indonesia, Prof. Ayodhia Pitaloka Pasaribu. Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale are the most common species that cause disease in humans.

Diseases caused by parasites that spread through contact with infected soil are particularly vulnerable to school children. As a result, STH can cause reduced school performance, impaired cognitive function, malnutrition, and a range of other physical disorders. This concern motivated Prof. Ayodhia and other Pediatrician experts, namely Anggraini Alam, Krisnarta Sembiring, Syahril Pasaribu and Djatnika Setiabudi, to research helminth infections, the most common tropical disease in Indonesia today.

The research was conducted by Prof. Ayodhia and her team in Desa Suka, Kecamatan Tigapanah, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Targeting children, the research team used their feces as test objects. The stool samples were processed using the single Kato-Katz method, and potential risk factors were analyzed, including parental education and occupation, hand washing habits, toilet use, shoe use, and contact with soil. “The stool samples were examined using the single Kato-Katz method to determine the presence of helminth eggs,” explains Prof. Ayodhia.

The test results showed that 57.24% of the children were positive for helminth infections. Ascaris lumbricoides species contributed the highest role as the cause of the disease in these children, with a percentage reaching 40.17%. Moreover, two children were infected by Hymenolepis nana species and one by Enterobius vermicularis.

“The risk factors for helminth infection may seem simple, but other factors, such as parents’ education and occupation, can also play a role. They play a role in teaching children to practice Clean and Healthy Living Behavior (PHBS). Behaviors such as hand washing habits, toilet use, and contact with soil greatly affect the emergence of STH,” said Prof. Ayodhia.

The Indonesian Ministry of Health provides Albendazole as a drug to treat STH. However, according to Prof. Ayodhia and her team, clean living habits are the key to tackling STH. Effective control of helminth infections can be done by improving hand washing habits, adequate toilet use, and regular deworming, including deworming twice a year, which can reduce the risk of helminth infections.

“Understanding these factors is important for effective STH control. Treatment needs to be done immediately to realize the STH-free plan. Do not let diseases like this interfere with child development,” concluded Prof. Ayodhia.

Research Article

Detail Paper

TitlePrevalence and Risk Factors of Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis Among School Children Living in an Agricultural Area of North Sumatera, Indonesia
AuthorsAyodhia Pitaloka Pasaribu1, Angraini Alam2, Krisnarta Sembiring1, Syahril Pasaribu1
Author Affiliations
  1. 1Department of Child Health, Medical Faculty, Universitas Sumatera Utara, North Sumatera, Medan, Indonesia

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