National Deworming Exercise Begins

Some Children being given medication for deworming

The Ghana Health Service (GHS), in collaboration with Ghana Education Service (GES), will today commence the annual national mass drug administration (MDA) exercise to deworm about 1.3million school children in 8,200 schools across the country.

The MDA which will also be done in communities in 47 selected districts is expected to deworm children against intestinal worm and schistosomiasis (bilharzias) infestation to improve the health status of pupils.

Dr Benjamin Kofi Marfo, Deputy Programme Manager, Neglected Tropical Disease Programme, stated that the implementation of the programme has, over the years, prevented millions of children from the effects of worm infestation.

He said the children will be given the two medications for intestinal worm and schistosomiasis (bilharzias) infestation according to their height and weight, adding that volunteers will be seen in the various public schools administering the medicine to children.

Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, Director General of GHS, said in a speech read on his behalf at a media briefing that  intestinal worm and schistosomiasis have been identified as the main cause of malnutrition, reduction in cognitive development and impediment in concentration in class among pupils, hence the exercise to rid their system off the worms and infestations.

“It is worth noting that the distribution of drugs to school age children to prevent and treat worms and bilharzia will improve their health and wellbeing and prevent the negative effects of diseases like malnutrition, anemia, and growth retardation among others,” he mentioned.

Dr Angela Tina Mensah, Acting Director of Secondary Education at the GES, stated that sensitisation has gone round the various beneficiary schools on the exercise, adding that the smooth implementation of the exercises will, in the long run, benefit the school.

“I want to encourage school heads to help facilitate the exercise by organising the children when the volunteers come around to administer the medication,” she said.

Dr Joyce Aryee, NTD Ambassador, also encouraged parents to allow their children to participate in the nationwide exercise which will improve their health and well-being.

She said the exercise is to benefit the children, thus, any hindrance of the children from partaking in the activity will go against overall goal of ensure a worm infestation-free society.

She also asked parents to give their children enough food during the exercise to make the programme a success.

Schistosomiasis and intestinal worm are part of the 17 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), of which 12 can be found in Ghana.

Presently, the GHS through the Neglected Tropical Programmes offers treatment to five of the disease which include elephantiasis, trachoma, schistosomiasis, intestinal worms and onchocerciasis.

Schistosomiasis, commonly known as bilharzias, is a chronic disease contracted due to contact with contaminated freshwater, it is transmitted by a parasite called schistosoma.

Intestinal worm, commonly referred to as soil-transmitted helminthes, is found at places with poor environmental sanitation where the soils are contaminated with human excreta.

 By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri