Parasitic disease and supplemenation

Nutritional therapy for malaria.

Nutritional therapy for malaria has become somewhat controversial. There have been some associations between iron supplementation and increased risk of hospitalization due to malaria. It has been advised by the WHO that when severe undernutrition is observed, iron supplementation should be given only after acute problems involved with infection have been treated and growth has returned to normal.

Vitamin A supplementation has been investigated for its affects on malaria mortality yet little connection has been found. A study carried out by Binka et al (1995) evaluated 21,906 children and found that there was no connection between children supplemented with vitamin A and those supplemented with a placebo. However the protective affects of vitamin A supplementation has been shown to increase overall health and decrease mortality, therefore supplementation may aid against increasing an individuals health and resistance to diseases.

Zinc supplementation has also been analysed for the reduction of malaria morbidity and incidence. A study conducted in Papua New Guinea found that zinc supplementation reduced malaria related health centre episodes, but the mechanisms of zinc and malaria episode reduction is still unknown. Yet a reduction was still observed so zinc supplementation may be beneficial for malaria.

(WHO, 2006; Binka et al., 1995; Shankar et al., 2000)

Nutritional therapy for schistosomiasis and hookworm.

Due to the significant connection between schistosomiasis, hookworm and iron deficiency anaemia, iron supplements are recommended with antihelminthic treatments to prevent against both the disease and risk of deficiency.

As well as this, other micronutrients are also thought to have beneficial affects after antihelminthic drugs have been given. Vitamin A is thought to be beneficial for children after deworming to protect against anaemia. However supplementary food is expensive, so supplementation in the form of tablets are easier to distribute. When children are at school these treatments are easier to distribute, but children that do not attend school are harder to access.

(Stoltzfus & Dreyfuss 1998; Hall, 2007)

Whilst supplementation appears to increase nutritional status of an individual, these forms of treatment may not be easy to access as some are expensive and only available in certain areas. Improvements in the diet must be made to prevent against deficiencies when supplementation is not available.