Recent debates about deworming school-aged children in East Africa have been described as the ‘Worm Wars’. The stakes are high. Deworming has become one of the top priorities in the fight against infectious diseases. Staff at the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation and the World Bank (among other institutions) have endorsed the approach, and school-based treatments are a key component of large-scale mass drug administration programmes.

There is no doubt that curative therapy for children infected with debilitating parasitic infections is appropriate, but overly positive evaluations of indiscriminate deworming are counter-productive.