Worms infect more than one-quarter of school-age children throughout the developing world. Infections adversely affect children’s access to education, health and cognitive development. Treatment is safe and cheap, at pennies per dose, and is a “best buy” in terms of education interventions. A randomized evaluation in Kenya showed that treating children for worms increases the amount of time they spend at school at a cost of about US$ 3.50 per additional school year. Despite the low cost, only 10% of the 400 million children infected with worms are currently being treated.
A group of Young Global Leaders (YGL), a forum created by the World Economic Forum, sought to improve educational attainment for children around the world. With this goal, they chose to focus on deworming because it is a relatively neglected issue but proven to be one of the most cost-effective ways to increase access to basic education. The group has formed a non-profit institution, Deworm the World (DtW), which is helping organize and support deworming activities around the globe.
Although DtW was only incorporated in 2008, it has rapidly ramped up to help deworm impressive numbers of children around the world. In September 2008 it signed a major agreement as part of the Clinton Global Initiative to use 300 million deworming tablets (donated by Feed the Children) to work with several partners and deworm children in up to 19 countries. In November 2008 it helped start a project in Ethiopia that will have dewormed a million children in the first year. By 2009 it had helped Kenya's Ministry of Education launch a mass deworming project that treated over 3 million children and helped the government of Andhra Pradesh in India treat over 2 million children. DtW is on track to treat at least 20 million children in 27 countries by the end of 2010. Click here for an update as of April 2010.
Board members of Deworm the World (* indicates Executive Committee);
Vikram Akula, CEO and Founder, SKS Microfinance, India
Erik Charas, Director, Endowment and Investments, Foundation for Community Development (FDC), Mozambique
Esther Duflo, Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Gary Edson*, Chief International Officer, SVP, The Case Foundation, USA
Kristin Forbes*, Professor of Economics, Sloan School of Management-Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Rachel Glennerster*, Executive Director, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
James Kondo, President, Health Policy Institute, Japan
Michael Kremer*, Gates Professor of Developing Societies, Harvard University, USA
Alejandro Ramirez, Chief Executive Officer, Cinepolis, Mexico
Nicole Schwab, World Economic Forum, Switzerland