Young children should play in the dirt to help build up their immune systems, but they should also have decent medical care available to prevent some of the consequences of the act. Children in many tropical countries do not have the luxury of playing in the dirt. Instead, they must live in it. This is especially true in areas with poor sanitation. One of the problems that can occur is an infection by a parasitic worm that can cause small children in tropical areas with poor sanitation to go blind if the disease is not treated.
One organization in the United Kingdom is working to reverse this trend. It started its own program to support mass deworming programs throughout these areas. One of the most common methods of transmission is through eggs of the parasite that are found in human fecal matter. While improving sanitation in these areas would work well, sponsoring massive deworming programs is more cost-effective for villages living in poverty. These medications can be routinely administered and only cost a few cents per pill.
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The massive deworming programming suggested by Sightsavers won a recommendation for charitable giving from the Giving Well blog. The effort is backed by other international charitable organizations. No one needs to worry about the long-term effects of the medications. The anti-parasitic drugs have few side effects and can be given to the children repeatedly. The efforts are consistent with the organization’s goal to eliminate blindness from preventable causes in children and others. GiveWell is an organization the recommends charitable efforts that live up to its values.
The parasitic blindness is only one of the many neglected tropical diseases that similar non-governmental organizations wish to combat. The diseases typically do not get the attention of the larger diseases. Such illnesses rarely receive mainstream attention in most developed nations.