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Cambodia Reduces Intestinal Parasite Infestation

Cambodia Reaches UN Goal Of Reducing Intestinal Parasite Infestation

Six years ahead of schedule Cambodia has become the first country to reach the United Nations health agency's 2010 goal of treating three-quarters of its school-age children for intestinal parasites.

Thousands of teachers in 6,500 schools gave anti-parasite pills to their students in a campaign coordinated by the Cambodian Ministry of Health, Education and Sport, supported by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children's Fund UNICEF, the Japanese Embassy in Cambodia and the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation.

More than 75 per cent of the nearly 3 million children of school age were treated, whereas five years ago some 70 per cent of the children suffered from intestinal worms and demonstrated the negative impact on short-term and long-term memory, reasoning and reading comprehension, according to WHO.

"Cambodia's experience provides hard evidence that it is completely within the realm of possibility to protect the vast majority of children against parasites. Cambodia has done it and so can other countries," Dr Lorenzo Savioli, WHO's Coordinator of Parasitic Diseases Control, said today.

Highlighting the importance of action, the agency's Western Pacific Regional Adviser on Parasitic Diseases, Dr Kevin Palmer, said, "Reaching the target this early wasn't accidental. It demonstrates what can be achieved when the political will is there, together with financial support from donors and partners."

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