In Bangladesh, “Little Doctors” are helping raise awareness about parasites lurking in the environment, while medicine donations are providing relief to infections caused by intestinal worms.
Concerns about intestinal worms increased significantly after a survey in 2005 showed that nearly 80 percent of children in Bangladesh were infected with soil-transmitted helminthes (STH). To address the issue, the country launched a school-based national de-worming effort with health care partners and the National Center for Disease Control of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW).
Launched in 2010, this novel child-to-child outreach effort selects and trains students from fourth and fifth grades to serve as “Little Doctors.” They assist their teachers on health promotion days and help their classmates learn about STH and how to prevent infection. They also encourage children who are not attending school to do so on de-worming days.
“These Little Doctors are an inspiration to their classmates, and their messages are reaching beyond the schools and helping to improve community health,” says Dr. Be-Nazir Ahmed, Director of Disease Control for the MOHFW.
The goal of the program is to raise awareness in 82,000 schools and create 1.2 million Little Doctors by 2014.