Parasitic diseases

Parasitic diseases are infections that are caused by ectoparasites, protozoans and helminths. These parasites use the body of the host that they have infected to live, reproduce and continue their lifecycle. Many of these parasites have complex lifecycles that can cause considerable public health problems in many countries. Many factors can impact the duration of a parasites lifecycle like poor sanitation, unsatisfactory living conditions and low levels of nutrition.

The parasites that present the largest public health burdens are malaria, hookworm, schistosomiasis, amoebiasis and leishmaniasis. These infections cause diseases that can, if left untreated, cause detrimental effects to health and may even cause death. The parasites that shall be covered in this e-Learning resource are malaria, schistosomiasis and hookworm as these greatly affect the population of Tanzania.

These infections can cause a range of nutrition challenges within the sufferer including:


  • Malnutrition
  • Wasting
  • Growth stunting
  • Anaemia
  • Problems in pregnancy
  • Low birth weight in new born babies and poor growth development in children.

(Mazigo et al, 2010; Bottone, 2006).

These issues will be discussed further within this resource.