Intestinal worm infestation has become a global health problem and still highly prevalent in the tropical region. Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections form the most important group of intestinal worms affecting two billion people worldwide, causing considerable morbidity and suffering, though largely preventable.
Spatial distribution of helminth infections across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria identified the following helminthes; Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm, Trichuris trichiura, S. stercoralis, Taenia sp, S. mansoni, S. stercoralis, Enterobius vermicularis and Hymenolopis nana. This study revealed that prevalence of intestinal helminth in the country has not declined since the 1970s. Ascaris lumbricoides was the most prevalent helminth in the Southwestern (21%) and South-southern (13%) parts of Nigeria. Hookworm was the most prevalent helminth infection in the Southeastern (19%) while multiple infections were highly prevalent in Northern Nigeria (25% in North-central and 19% in the Northeast and Northwest, respectively). Cases of Taenia sp and Schistosoma mansoni infections were high in the Northeast and Northwest of Nigeria (8% and 6%, respectively).
Nigeria has benefited from the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme for over thirty years in the aspects of enhanced capacity building for applying personal hygiene and sanitation, improved water sources and provision of sanitation facilities and the National Emergency Group for coordination of emergency preparedness and response for WASH-related diseases. WHO estimated that more than 9% of the disease burden and 6% of deaths could be prevented by improving the WASH intervention programme. Children suffer the most, as 25% of global mortality of children (1 month–14 years) was linked with unsafe water and inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene, which was polarized in developing countries. To overcome challenge of WASH-related diseases, improved hygiene practices are essential. It is therefore important to sensitize people on the importance of water and sanitation practices through hygiene education. For effectiveness, hygiene education should be incorporated into the curriculum of schools from primary to tertiary institutions.
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