October saw the ProSalud project gearing up for another round of parasite prevention activities. Earlier in the year, Transformación Urbana teamed up with the municipal health authorities to carry out the large-scale parasite campaign seen in these areas. In conjunction with public health workers in the Chimalhuacán and Los Reyes municipalities, we were able to distribute 40,000 doses of medication and hold a number of educational prevention workshops. The results of a follow-up survey showed that this campaign was able to reduce many parasite-related illnesses by up to 70%.
People contract parasites from drinking contaminated water, eating unclean food, or simply walking barefoot on infested soil. The Mexican Secretary of Health found more than 60% of the Mexican population suffers from illnesses caused by parasitic infestations. Furthermore, the epidemiology department of Mexico State’s Health Institute showed that in the Los Reyes municipality the rate of parasitic and gastrointestinal infections are in first and second place, respectively. Left untreated, parasites can lead to malnutrition, chronic health problems and even death.
Parasite prevention is not complicated. It is primarily a matter of maintaining good hygiene habits, observing safe food preparation guidelines, drinking bottled water and being treated for parasites twice a year. Following these precautions will decrease gastrointestinal infections and poor nutritional absorption in children, who are still growing and developing. Combining preventative education with parasite treatment is a low-cost, highly effective way to have a major public health impact in slum communities.
In October, ProSalud began parasite treatment and prevention activities again as we kick off another large-scale campaign. Close to 700 children in the local schools, Family Club members and soccer team received parasite treatment. Staff carried out several handwashing workshops with preschool and elementary school children, who learned the importance of proper hygiene before eating and how such a simple act can profoundly impact on their health. Staff also held intestinal parasite workshops for high school students and mothers, to teach them how parasites are transmitted and how to avoid contracting them. By building on the success of the first pilot project, ProSalud anticipates that this new campaign will be even more massive that the one carried out earlier in the year.