Mass iron treatment is cheaper than routine dewormingBMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39234.444259.3A (Published 07 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1180
- Shailendra Kapoor, resident physician
Gulani et al say that routine administration of intestinal anthelmintic agents results in a marginal increase in haemoglobin (1.71 g/l).1 What needs to be considered is whether this approach of mass anthelmintic therapy is actually economically feasible, especially in third world countries where iron deficiency anaemia is a major health issue.2 This needs special consideration, given the fact that the primary cause of anaemia in third world countries is dietary malnutrition rather than intestinal infestation with helminths.3
A better and more economically feasible approach to thwart the “epidemic” of anaemia might be mass supplementation with iron supplements such as oral ferrous sulphate.4 The average cost of mebendazole treatment (100 mg three times a day for three days) is £15. According to Gulani et al, this regimen increases haemoglobin by 1.7 g/l. On the other hand, ferrous sulphate at a dose of 325 mg three times a day will increase haemoglobin by the same amount in about two weeks and cost £1.
Competing interests: None declared.