From Aniekan Aniekan, Calabar

The Cross River State government in partnership with Evidence Action, Nigeria has announced plans to vaccinate 886, 292 school-aged children between ages five to nine against intestinal worm infections.

The one-week deworming exercise will be conducted by the Neglected Tropical Unit of the state’s Ministry of Health and is specifically targeted to treat soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) and Schistosomiasis (SCH).

Veronica Mark, the Neglected Tropical Diseases coordinator in the state ministry of health said “During this round of treatment in the state, 623, 828 school-aged children will be targeted to receive Mebendazole tablets for the preventive treatment of STH and 173,000 will be targeted for Schistosomiasis treatment.

“About 1000 health care workers will be trained to administer the deworming tablets in over 2000 schools and 2000 communities across 14 local government areas in the state,” she said.

She said the drugs will be available to children from five years because those below five have been covered by other immunization interventions as well as children in Abi, Boki, Ikom and Obubra LGAs.

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Also speaking, Toochi Ohaji, the senior manager, of Evidence Action Nigeria said they are a partner in fighting NTD in the state.

Besides, he said they are providing technical assistance in planning, capacity building, logistics, data collection and reporting, community mobilization, monitoring and supervision of school deworming programmes for STH and SCH.

He stressed that the infections result from poor sanitation, and hygiene conditions and tend to have the highest prevalence in school-aged children.

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

“These worms disproportionately affect the poor, who are less able to afford the cost of diagnosis and treatment”, he said.

The deworming exercise will run between April 24th to 29th and the deworming drugs are being donated through the World Health Organisation’s drug donation programme.