EDITORIAL| Deworming campaign

SIMILAR to the campaign on micro nutrients for school-aged children, the nationwide massive deworming campaign launched by the Department of Health in coordination with the Department of Education and the Department of the Interior and Local Government last Wednesday seeks to ensure better health for the children.

In February 2013, an article which came out in Philippine Star, said that an estimated nine million children are suffering from intestinal worms. Dr. Vicente Belizario, vice chancellor for research at the UP Manila, was cited as saying that “72 percent of children in the country had intestinal worms when the Department of Health (DOH) launched a nationwide deworming program in 2004.

“The DOH provided free deworming drugs to all elementary school children, seeking to bring down the prevalence rate to less than 20 percent, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO)”

The prevalence rate was reduced to 40 percent by 2009 but 8.8 million children were still infected with intestinal worms.

Deworming is an intervention that is said to have a domino effect on a child’s development. In Africa, it is seen as an effective intervention in keeping a child in school as worm infestation leads to the impairment of the physical and mental growth of children.

To prevent the transmission of worms from one child to another, the campaign is done simultaneously, targetting 16 million school-aged children across the country. At the outset this would seem to be a very ambitious project but as the DOH report show, in the region, the health department was able to deworm 605,762 children out of 759,082 eligible children for deworming or an implementation rate of 80% which is not too bad for such a massive campaign.

Health regional director Abdullah Dumama, Jr., told Mindanao Times (see frontpage story) that reports of stomachaches and nausea are side effects of the medicine especially if the child who was given the pill had an empty stomach.

Worm infection is linked to poverty. The lack of sanitary toilets, water supply and general hygiene play a big role in the transmission of worms. The local government units can be very crucial in the fight against worms and should be tapped if we want to eradicate of significantly reduce the prevalence of this controllable health problem.

Posted in Opinion