Overcoming Delivery Challenges for National Deworming in the Republic of Korea

Global Delivery Initiative
Global Delivery Initiative • 31 August 2021

Authors: Taejong Kim; Kyuri Kim

During the late 1960s, intestinal worm infections were prevalent in Korea, with close to 80 percent of the entire population infected with intestinal worms. These infections caused anemia and organ malfunction, impaired educational and development outcomes for children, and hindered the productivity of adult workers. Despite the availability of inexpensive and effective chemotherapeutics, the lack of vaccines and the contagiousness of parasitic infections made it difficult to prevent further infections. 

The Korean Association of Parasite Eradication (KAPE), a small coalition of parasitologists and government officials, was established in 1964 with the objective of eliminating the then-pervasive problem of intestinal worm infection in the Republic of Korea. One of KAPE’s first achievements was to assist the government in enacting a national law that mandated all primary and secondary schools to comply with the state’s deworming campaign. In 1968, with the help of aid packages from Japan’s Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency (OTCA, which would become the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA), KAPE coordinated with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MHSW) and the Ministry of Education and administered stool examinations and deworming pills throughout the nation’s elementary and primary schools. Although the government and KAPE did not reach the initial objective of eradicating intestinal worms within a decade, intestinal worm infection rates fell from 77 percent in 1969, when the national program was launched, to below 1 percent in 1995, when program was brought to a halt. In 1997, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Republic of Korea had essentially eliminated intestinal worms. 

This case study, as well as a delivery note adapted from the original case study, examines how this was achieved.