Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections like whip worm, round worm and hookworm are endemic in the most impoverished regions of Central America. These infections are associated with decreased appetite, chronic malnutrition, anemia, growth stunting as well as cognitive and educational impairments. Although regular de-worming with anthelminthic drugs is an effective and inexpensive solution, Honduras’ current treatment program is failing; prevalence rates remain high in several geographic clusters despite the ease of drug administration and a national commitment to de-worming initiatives.
The aim of this research is to improve health and health care delivery with a specific emphasis on increasing the efficiency of treatment for soil-transmitted helminths in Central America. We are combining spatial accessibility tools with environmental epidemiology to understand if rural communities with better access to larger primary care options will have lower STH prevalence than those located further away from these facilities.
The results have the potential to play an important role in improving the efficacy and efficiency of treatment and prevention options in Honduras by informing structural reform and future resource distribution. The methods employed in this study are generalizable and can be used to improve access to primary health care in other regions of the world.