C’ River partners EA to deworm school children in 2024 

The Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Unit in Cross River State’s ministry of health, in collaboration with Evidence Action, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), is targeting 886,292 children for the 2024 School deworming exercise in the state.

The annual comprehensive state-wide, school-based deworming exercise began on Wednesday, April 24, and would be concluded on Tuesday, April 30.

The exercise will be implemented by NTD in partnership with the state Ministry of Education, state Universal Basic Education Board and the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

A total of 623,828 school-aged children will be targeted to receive mebendazole tablets for the preventive treatment of soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH), 173,000 will be targeted for SCH treatment and about 1,000 trained health workers would administer the tablets in 2,000 schools across 14 local government areas (LGAs).

Briefing journalists on the exercise on Wednesday in Calabar, Mrs Veronica Mark, Cross River’s NTD Coordinator, said the diseases were common in children.

Mark said the treatment will take place in 14 LGAs, adding that the infections known as intestinal worm, result from poor sanitation and hygiene conditions and tend to have the highest prevalence in school-aged children.

According to her, “the infection can lead to anemia, malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development, ultimately affecting children’s educational outcomes and income as adults if left untreated.

“These worms disproportionately affect the poor who are less able to afford the costs of diagnosis and treatment.

“It also will potentially increase the inequality gap that currently exists and derail the country’s development goal of equitable access to health and education,” he said.

Similarly, Mr Toochi Ohaji, Senior Manager, Evidence Action, Nigeria, said treating at-risk children through schools is an evidence-based cost-effective solution.

Ohaji maintained that Evidence Action, as a partner fighting neglected tropical diseases in Cross River, has been providing technical assistance in planning, capacity building and logistics.

“We also partner in data collection and reporting, community mobilization, monitoring and supervision of the school deworming programmes for STH and SCH,” he said

Available data shows that globally, over 1 billion children are at risk of intestinal worm infections, while in Nigeria, over 48 million school-aged children require treatment of STH infections and 16.6 million children, treatment for SCH.

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