The Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) led by the Parasitology Department embarks on a study to see the effect of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in achieving zero open defecation, thereby reducing intestinal worm or soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infection prevalence.
Intestinal worms or STH infections remain a public health problem in the country mostly affecting the poor and deprived communities.
Considered as an infectious disease of poverty, STH infections negatively affect the nutritional status of the host, worsening bodily functions that could lead to complications, and sometimes, death.
“There is still a high prevalence of STH infections recorded in the endemic areas of the country, with school-aged children being the most vulnerable group,” said RITM Parasitology Science Research Specialist I Pauline Joy Lorenzo.
Lorenzo mentioned that open defecation is the major cause of transmission and infection. She emphasized that proper sanitation is crucial in ending the transmission cycle of STH.
At present, the Department of Health (DOH) operationalizes the CLTS approach in eliminating open defecation and the cycle of fecal-oral contamination.
According to Lorenzo, the CLTS strategy empowers communities to identify ways they could reach and sustain zero open defecation. Participatory and sustainability are the key drivers of this approach.
“The team plans to look into CLTS and see if the approach really achieves the outcome of zero open defecation. This study could serve as the basis of the STH Program and the Sanitation Program in improving their health systems and research,” said Lorenzo.
Kick-starting this year, the study will use a quasi-experimental approach in the two barangays of Masbate. By the end of the study, STH prevalence would be compared from the two study sites – Brgy. Dangcalan (experimental group) and Brgy. Laurente (control group).
The results of this study could significantly contribute in scaling-up the DOH CLTS approach and ultimately address the concerns of communities in need.
by Allenor Enciso, Communication and Engagement Office