Health

GHS begins nationwide deworming exercise among 1.9m basic school children

To lower the incidence of intestinal parasite illnesses in the nation, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has started a statewide deworming campaign among students in primary schools.

The project, which would go through December 9, 2022, is aimed at 1.9 million youngsters in 89 chosen districts across Ghana, ranging in age from five to fourteen.

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The mass drug administration against bilharzia (schistosomiasis) and soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH) is a component of overall efforts to eradicate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the nation, with the theme “Achieving Health Equity to End Schistosomiasis (bilharzia)”.

Dr. Anthony Adofo Ofosu, the Deputy Director-General of the GHS, gave a press briefing on the exercise yesterday in Accra. He explained that the program sought to boost children’s productivity, immunity, and optimal growth for better learning outcomes while in school.

Praziquantel (600 mg) and Albendazole (400 mg) would be delivered to each child based on their height using a measuring strip, he claimed, under the strict observation of teachers and a health worker.

We urge all parents, guardians, and caretakers to make sure their children eat before heading out to school so that the children can take the medications. Ideally, medications would be delivered just after the first break or after the children have been fed food.

The Deputy DG reaffirmed the safety and effectiveness of both medications for treating infections over time, noting that all medical facilities have been placed on high alert and that schools have been assigned to them for immediate assistance in the event of any negative effects.

To guarantee a population of school-aged people free of worms, high drug compliance is required. By doing this, we are preventing absenteeism and inattentiveness in class brought on by the possibility of contracting schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases.

The drugs are highly effective, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends them for widespread usage due to their excellent safety profile. To increase coverage and aid in ridding Ghana of parasitic illnesses, he pleaded for all schools—public and private—and parents to work together, collaborate, and support the deworming effort in the targeted districts and schools.

NTDs continue to be a social and economic burden if not addressed, according to Mrs. Theresa Oppong, National School Health Education Programme (SHEP) Coordinator at the Ghana Education Service.

She pointed out that the SHEP project had played a key role in working with the GHS throughout time to address health issues, particularly those involving schoolchildren.

Through these partnerships and preparation with SHEP to create action plans for improved service integration, Ghana has the potential to make even more substantial strides in the management and eradication of NTDs.

We anticipate further cooperation in fostering effective NTD education in schools through the school health clubs in order to provide a solid platform where teachers and students can act as change agents, she said.

Over 880 million school-aged children are estimated to be in need of treatment for their intestinal worm infection, which affects over 1.5 billion people worldwide, or nearly 1 in 4 of the world’s population.

Contact with polluted soil or water bodies can spread these illnesses, which can lead to schistosomiasis or soil-helminthiasis infections.

School-based deworming has been identified as a low cost intervention that takes advantage of existing school infrastructure to administer deworming medications to eligible school-aged children. These conditions tend to be most prevalent in school-age children, which is defined as children aged 5 to 14.

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