Korean J Parasitol.  2006 Sep;44(3):177-185. 10.3347/kjp.2006.44.3.177.

A successful experience of soil-transmitted helminth control in the Republic of Korea

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, and Institute of Endemic Diseases, Seoul National University Medical Research Center, Seoul 110-799, Korea. cjy@snu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Parasitology, College of Medicine, Hallym University, Chuncheon 200-702, Korea.
  • 3Department of Parasitology, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 157-704, Korea.

Abstract

Soil-transmitted helminths (STH), namely Ascaris, Trichuris and hookworms (Ancylostoma and Necator), present a global health problem to about a half of the earth's population. In the Republic of Korea, STH were highly prevalent and were considered a high priority target for national control. To promote the control, a non-governmental organization named Korea Association for Parasite Eradication (currently Korea Association of Health Promotion) was founded in 1964, and mass fecal examination followed by selective mass chemotherapy with anthelmintics was performed twice a year from 1969 to 1995 targeting whole nationwide schoolchildren. Meanwhile, decreasing patterns of national STH infections have been monitored by 7 times' quinquennial national surveys targeting general population. In 1971, the overall intestinal helminth egg positive rate was 84.3% (Ascaris 58.2%, Trichuris 65.4%, and hookworms 10.7%), which became 63.2% in 1976, 41.1% in 1981, 12.9% in 1986, 3.8% in 1992, 2.4% in 1997, and 4.3% (Ascaris 0.03%, Trichuris 0.02%, and hookworms 0%) in 2004. During the control period, national economy rapidly developed, and living standards including environment, sanitation, and agricultural technology greatly improved, which undoubtedly boosted the STH control effects. Our experience indicates that social driving force to establish an eligible national control system to conduct repeated mass chemotherapy, together with improvement of environment and sanitation, is important for initiating and achieving STH control in a developing community.

Keyword

Ascaris lumbricoides; Trichuris trichiura; hookworm; soil-transmitted helminth; control; fecal examination; anthelmintics
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