Hookworm affects approximately 500 million people worldwide, yet its global economic and health impact is not well understood. A new study suggests that the health and economic burden of hookworm infection is estimated to exceed those of a number of diseases receiving greater attention and investment. Human hookworm infection confers a substantial global health and economic burden through loss of productivity, and years of life living with disability due to infection outcomes. While hookworm infection rarely results in death, it can lead to iron-deficiency anemia and malnutrition. Chronic health problems resulting from these conditions include lethargy, impaired physical and cognitive development and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
The Global Economic and Health Burden of Human Hookworm Infection. (2016) PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10(9): e0004922. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004922
Even though human hookworm infection is highly endemic in many countries throughout the world, its global economic and health impact is not well known. Without a better understanding of hookworm’s economic burden worldwide, it is difficult for decision makers such as funders, policy makers, disease control officials, and intervention manufacturers to deter- mine how much time, energy, and resources to invest in hookworm control. We developed a computational simulation model to estimate the economic and health bur- den of hookworm infection in every country, WHO region, and globally, in 2016 from the societal perspective. Globally, hookworm infection resulted in a total 2,126,280 DALYs using 2004 disability weight estimates and 4,087,803 DALYs using 2010 disability weight estimates (excluding cognitive impairment outcomes). Including cognitive impairment did not significantly increase DALYs worldwide. Total productivity losses varied with the proba- bility of anemia and calculation method used, ranging from $7.5 billion to $138.9 billion annually using gross national income per capita as a proxy for annual wages and ranging from $2.5 billion to $43.9 billion using minimum wage as a proxy for annual wages. Even though hookworm is classified as a neglected tropical disease, its economic and health burden exceeded published estimates for a number of diseases that have received comparatively more attention than hookworm such as rotavirus. Additionally, certain large countries that are transitioning to higher income countries such as Brazil and China, still face considerable hookworm burden.