Imagine a worm crawling around in you, infecting your organs, stealing your nutrients. That is the reality for too many people who have Whipworm. An adult whipworm can grow to 50 cm, that’s the length of your elbow to your fingertips! These worms live in the human intestines, causing infected people chronic pain.
Often people contract Whipworm through eating unwashed fruits and vegetables. In tropical countries endemic for Whipworm, water is scarce. People cannot afford to spend their precious water supply to wash food thoroughly. Once infected, adult worms can lay up to 20,000 eggs a day—it’s nearly impossible to avoid infections.
A life of pain with no way out
People living with Whipworm commonly have abdominal pain, headaches, and an inability to control bowel movements, among many other symptoms. They also suffer from malnutrition, Vitamin A deficiency, and inflamed intestines. Whipworm impacts everyday activities like eating. Adults have a hard time providing for their family because working becomes extremely difficult. For children, the worms impair their growth and development because they leech the little nutrition that kids receive.
About 700 million people are infected with Whipworm globally. The disease is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. While it is curable with medication, there are many regions that are remote and hard-to-reach, so people are forced to live with Whipworm with no other options.
At effect:hope, we are helping preschool-age children in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire who are too young to participate in school deworming programs with the Every Child Thrives project. We are providing deworming treatments alongside Vitamin A supplements to combat worm infections and Vitamin A deficiency together. In a young child who is at peak development years, having a worm infection and Vitamin A deficiency can mean stunted growth, cognitive impairment, blindness, or even death.