Currently, more than 300 million people around the world suffer from severe helminth (parasitic worm) infections. Many people are chronically infected with several different helminths, such as those that cause schistosomiasis and hookworm. However, the study of helminth infections receives less than 1 percent of research dollars globally, making it a severely under-researched and neglected tropical disease. Despite some efforts towards deworming campaigns, health education, and improved sanitation, rates of helminth infections are still high.
Given the high prevalence of helminth infections in rural Uganda, Holly Lam and Uma Paithankar travel to villages in Uganda’s Buyende District to cover the stories of those who struggle with them. Understanding their lives can spread awareness about the effects of the disease and help eliminate it.
Over the course of this project, a series of interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with community members to gain insight on attitudes and beliefs towards helminth infections as well as barriers to the control of helminth infections. The reporters had the support of contacts from local NGO Empower Through Health who have extensive experience working with community members in the area.