The Rivers Government, through the state Ministry of Health, in collaboration with an international organisation, Evidence Action, and World Health Organisation (WHO) has commenced a free deworming exercise for children in 15 local government area of the state.
Speaking to newsman in Port Harcourt, the state Coordinator of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), Mr Promise Komene Abanee, said the exercise is in line with the state government’s commitment to treat children infected with Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), commonly referred to as Intestinal Worms.
Represented by a Consultant in Evidence Action, Sammy Eke, Abani urged parents whose children fall within the age limit but are not in school to take their children to the nearest school in there area for the treatment during the exercise.
Also speaking, the South-South Regional Programme Manager of Evidence Action, Mr Joseph Kumbur, stated that the target is to deworm school children between the ages of 5 and 14 in selected 15 local government areas. Towards this end, he said, training of teachers that would join in the exercise in the various schools of the selected LGAs had earlier been carried out.
According to him, the deworming exercise, which started today, will last for five years, saying that each dose is expected to last in the child for about six months.
While noting that STH is among a group of diseases categorised as NTDs, Kumbur stated that the aim of the deworming exercise is to treat about 75 percent of infected school-age children in the state within the first five years.
“The ultimate aim of the Rivers State deworming programme is to treat at least 75 percent of school-age children for five consecutive years, after which an evaluation will be conducted to determine if there is need to continue with treatment”, he said.
According to him, “STHs are transmitted through contaminated human waste that spread through soil or water sources in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene. Humans also get infected by ingesting eggs or larvae through contaminated food or water, unwashed hands and walking barefoot on contaminated soil.
He said that about 3,800 schools across the 15 local government areas out of the 23 local government areas would be treated.
“We are targeting 1.3 million children between the ages of five and 14 to be treated with either Mebendazole or Albendazole tablets donated free by WHO at the end of the exercise”, Kumbur said.
Stories by Sogbeba Dokubo