On 21 January Suzy Campbell of the Research School of Population Health gave this talk as the final oral presentation of her PhD thesis. Soil-transmitted helmiths are perhaps better known as intestinal worms – a huge burden in impoverished regions of the world. The core of her research was a cluster randomised trial in 24 villages of Timor-Leste providing observations on over 2000 individuals. The treatment was a program of water sanitation and hygiene interventions to work in concert with regular de-worming tablets. Her analysis included mixed logistic regression models and multinomial mixed effects regression, with principal component analysis for creating socio-economic scores on top.
There was a high prevalence of worm infestation observed, but the link to health outcomes such as anaemia and stunting was not so clear, and may indeed be linked more to nutrition. Debate continues amongst public health researchers as to whether a continued presence of worms may actually be protective as far as auto-immune conditions such as asthma and even multiple sclerosis are concerned.