The results of a Campbell review of deworming programmes, published in this month’s edition of Lancet Global Health, reaffirms the findings of an earlier Cochrane review concerning soil-transmitted intestinal worms that was conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM).
One of the authors of the original Cochrane review, Dr David Taylor-Robinson, Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, said: “The Campbell review strongly corroborates our findings. This is important since not all systematic reviews on the same topic reach the same conclusion.
“The Cochrane review stimulated heated debate and has been criticized by deworming advocates. In this case the Campbell replication – which included other study designs alongside randomized control trials – reaffirmed our findings which found no evidence of mass treatment having an impact on weight, height, haemoglobin, exam performance or mortality.
“Given the areas in which worms are most prevalent are often very poor there are usually other factors affecting the health of these children. Furthermore, living conditions are improving in many parts of the world and so the prevalence of worms and the number of serious infections is decreasing.”
Professor Paul Garner, LSTM, said: “Donors and philanthropists want magic bullets to eradicate poverty. The Cochrane review has shown clearly that deworming advocates have exaggerated the benefits of these programmes.
“With Cochrane and Campbell having such similar findings, the World Health Organization, policy makers and philanthropists need to take heed of the evidence and adjust their policies and investments”
Read the full University of Liverpool news story here
The Campbell review 'Mass deworming to improve developmental health and wellbeing of children in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and network meta-analysis' is available here
Read the full editorial 'Campbell replication confirms little or no effect of community deworming'
Access the Cochrane review 'Deworming drugs for soil-transmitted intestinal worms in children: effects on nutritional indicators, haemoglobin, and school performance' here