According to the World Health Organization, intestinal parasitosis is part of the tropical diseases in which developing countries have economic difficulties in battling it (Aguilar et al., 2021). It has been recognized in low-income rural populations. Poor housing conditions, lack of access to drinking water, low income, low educational level, barriers to access to health services in general, and the poor sanitary conditions of the rural population are social determinants with which intestinal parasitosis is associated (Pan American Health Organization, 2021).
Intestinal parasites are single or multicellular living beings that feed on their host, which are mainly children, causing a series of repercussions on their health. Infections by intestinal parasites are determined by economic and social development processes, having a high prevalence in low-income countries affecting individuals of all ages. Despite its high morbidity, its low mortality has hindered recognition as an important problem, resulting in underestimation of its severity; In addition, in specific cases such as helminthiasis, the problem is aggravated by its endemicity and chronicity.
The presence, persistence and dissemination of intestinal parasites are related to various factors that negatively affects natural socioeconomic and environmental conditions. The first refers to family economic poverty and malnutrition, fecal contamination of soil and food, drinking water, inadequate hygienic habits, low education, and lack of environmental sanitation. The natural environmental aspects refer to change in temperature, humidity, and soil conditions, which increase the viability and maturation of geohelminth eggs. In addition to the above, the parasites produce loss of appetite, increased metabolism, intestinal malabsorption, and lesions in the intestinal mucous membrane, all of which contribute to protein-energy malnutrition, iron deficiency anemia and learning problems.
The exposed situation has a greater impact on children, due to their susceptibility to infections; In addition, it is a group in which iron deficiency and nutritional anemias lead to functional disorders, increase mortality and retard growth and psychomotor development (Pan American Health Organization, 2021).
According to the World Health Organization, in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 18 million people still practice open-air defecation, a condition that expands fecal-oral contamination and the transmission of intestinal parasites (Quizhpe, San Sebastián, Hurtig & Llamas, 2003, Ministry of Health, 2020).
The same entity establishes that anemia affects 27.7% of selected population groups including, preschool-age children, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age. The integrated care strategy for diseases prevalent in childhood, promoted by the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and the United Nations in Colombia, highlights the seasonal proliferation symptoms that could be associated with intestinal parasitosis in minors from rural populations (Cardona-Arias et al., 2017).
Parasitic diseases that can be transmitted by water contaminated with soil or feces, are protozoa, such as: Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia intestinalis, Balantidium coli, Cryptosporidium spp., Cyclospora cayetanensis, Isospora belli, microsporidia, and helminths such as Ascaris, Ancylostoma, and Strongyloides.
These infections can affect any individual regardless of their immune status, age or socioeconomic condition and are usually accompanied by diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever, in some cases (Heredia Martínez, Tovar Meléndez, Gallego Jaramillo & Naranjo García, 2015).
On the other hand, anemia is defined as a reduction in erythrocyte volume or hemoglobin concentration below the values registered for age (Behrman et al., 2004). It is the decrease in oxygen transported by erythrocytes towards the tissues, due to different factors, causing clinical manifestations according to the severity. In children 6 months to 6 years, there is anemia when hemoglobin is less than 10.5 g/dl, and in children 7 to 12 years, when it is less than 11g/dl. Although this is the most frequent factor, it should not be forgotten that other factors that need to be explored and treated according to the epidemiological situation present in the affected population can coexist, such as the presence of hematophagous parasites (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale), malaria, genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia due to a type of abnormal hemoglobin (HbS), chronic inflammatory diseases and malignant diseases, mainly.
According to Quizhpe, San Sebastián, Hurtig & Llamas (2003), anemia is a global health problem that mainly affects developing countries. The causes of anemia can be multifactorial and often coincidental, but the main one is the low intake of food with adequate sources of iron in quantity and quality. It is assumed that 50% of the causes of anemia are due to iron deficiency.
The National Survey of Intestinal Parasitism in School Population in Colombia from 2012 to 2014, identified the oceanic island territories of the Colombian Caribbean biogeographic province as the highest prevalence of childhood anemia due to intestinal parasites (45.1% of the school population), followed by the Belt provinces Árido Pericaribeño and Orinoquía, both with prevalences of 30%, Amazonia province (29.6%), Guayana (25.1%), Chocó - Magdalena (24.6%), Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (18.1%) and Norandina province (3.5%).
Villa Clarín is a neighborhood in Palermo, part of the Colombian Caribbean, whose socioeconomic and sanitary conditions are risk factors for the acquisition of intestinal parasitosis and anemia in children. This community reflects the situation of many rural areas in the northern territory of Colombia (Barrera-Dussán, Fierro-Parra, Puentes-Fierro & Ramos-Castañeda, 2018).