A nickel and a healthy diet can change the world

Sheldon Good

For just a nickel, you can free a child of intestinal worms for six months.

For years, Franconia Mennonite Conference has sponsored an initiative named the Worm Project, which “strives to relieve the suffering of millions of children.” The program’s main goal is to distribute worm pills around the world.

For Worm Project coordinator Claude Good, the underlying issue is the way the world’s resources are distributed. “The number of malnourished, overfed people in the world recently equaled the number of malnourished, underfed people at 1.1 billion people.”

According to Good, the combination of a warm climate and significant amounts of impoverished persons creates a breeding ground for worms. “Studies in Ecuador have shown that in the mountain areas about 80% of the children are affected,” Good said. “In Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, the infection rate is above 99%.”

The parasitic worms enter the body in various ways – through the feet, mouth, or childbirth.

Fortunately, there is a drug – Albendazole – that can help to clear these infestations. If taken every six months, the pill will cause the infectious worms to be passed in a person’s stool or vomit, or through one’s mouth.

Good said the worms tend to eat away the host’s food that is most nourishing, especially the food with vitamins — food that is essential to a person’s diet. “That leaves their bodies depleted of those essential nutrients and their recovery is slowed down as a result.”

Good encourages people to eat foods similar to those who live in areas where disease is widespread. “It is our responsibility to eat in a way that is simple yet healthy, and avoids the harmful aspects of the typical American diet, which leads to diseases of affluence. We should also use foods that are less costly, giving the opportunity to contribute one’s savings to programs that feed the world’s hungry.”

Recipes for responsible eating are available on the Worm Project website, which has recently been released at www.wormproject.org. There is also a link to donate online to the Worm Project, along with instructions on how to donate by writing a personal check.

A story with connections to the Worm Project is now scheduled to premiere on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Thursday, September 13. AC360 airs from 10p-12a EST. The story is scheduled to air all day Tuesday, September 18 and all day Saturday, September 22 on CNN and Headline News. Once it premieres on AC360, it will also be viewable on the CNN Heroes website www.cnn.com/heroes under “Medical Marvel” for the most updated programming information.

Photos provided by the Worm Project. The two photos of a woman and her child portray “before and after” using worm pills.