Soil-transmitted helminth and other intestinal parasitic infections among school children in indigenous people communities in Davao del Norte, Philippines.Acta Trop. 2011 Sep; 120 Suppl 1:S12-8.AT
A significant portion of the population in the Philippines consists of indigenous people (IP) groups, approximately 9% or 8.1 million. Data on the health status of these groups are very limited including the status of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections. Provision of such data will be of great importance in the formulation of policy on control and prevention of these diseases in this group. This study was conducted in selected villages/barangays in the municipalities of Carmen, Kapalong, San Isidro and Sto. Tomas in the Province of Davao del Norte in Southern Mindanao, Philippines. Parasitologic assessment was performed using Kato-Katz to qualify and quantify STH infections, while nutritional status assessment was based on hemoglobin determination and on nutritional status indicators, i.e., weight-for-age (WFA), height-for-age (HFA), and body mass index (BMI) for age derived from anthropometric measurements. A total of 572 school children participated in the survey, 264 (46.2%) of whom belonged to a specific IP group. Results showed that 34.1% of the school children had at least one STH infection while 5.9% had heavy intensity infections. Cumulative prevalence in IP school children was significantly higher than in non-IP children with rates at 39.0% and 29.9%, respectively (P = 0.021). Overall prevalence of school children with below normal WFA was 29.9%, while prevalence of those with below normal HFA and BMI for age was 42.8% and 14.9%, respectively. Of those examined, 8.3% had below normal hemoglobin levels. There was no significant difference observed between the nutritional status parameters of IP and non-IP school children. The parasitologic parameters reported in this study signify the need to pay more attention to IP children who are at higher risk of morbidity due to helminth infections. Access of IP communities to quality health services, which include mass drug administration (MDA) and health education on a regular basis, must be ensured. Further studies to determine factors that contribute to the higher prevalence of STH among IP groups are recommended.