The Ghana Health Service (GHS) in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service (GES) would begin a de-worming exercise for children in all public basic schools today, Monday Spetember 26, 2016.
Thousands of children from the kindergarten level through to the Junior High in over 20,000 schools are expected to receive a tablet of Albendazole each.
This was made known at a press briefing in Accra last week by officials from the Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme (NTDP) under GHS.
Trained personnel, who will administer the medicines, would also educate the pupils about the dangers of worm infestations.
The Deputy Programmes Manager for NTDs at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Kofi Marfo, said the de-worming exercise would have enormous benefits for the health of children since it would improve their appetite and well-being.
“Regular deworming also promotes good nutrition since there would not be any worms feeding on the child’s food intake”, he said, adding that considering the link between worm infestation, sanitation and hygiene, children would be given reinforced sanitation and hygiene education as part of the deworming activities.
He also mentioned that the disease affects about seven million people yearly in Ghana, saying it was unacceptable and called for a change in attitude, especially with open defecation.
The exercise, which is expected to last for one week with the possibility of an extension, is aimed at reducing the prevalence of NTDs in Ghana by 2020.
Dr Marfo advised parents to make sure their kids are fed before going to school so as to prevent any side effects of the medicine, saying taking the drugs on empty stomachs are the major cause of the effects that come up after the drug administration.
The NTDs are a group of infectious and parasitic diseases and about 17 of them are found in the most impoverished communities of the world.
In Ghana, there are 12 of such diseases and this includes, amongst others, soil transmitted worms and schistosomiasis diseases (bilharzia) which are most common in humans and the most vulnerable is school children aged from 5-14 years.
Worm infection may lead to diarrhoea, vomiting distended abdomen, fatigiu and loss of weight, which ultimately tends to stunted growth, loss of cognitive function and school absenteeism.
Schistosomiasis may also lead to passing of bloody urine, feaces, vomiting and fatigue. It may lead to cancer of the bladder.