Lagos State Government today commenced a free school-based deworming exercise to treat Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), targeting 1.3 million school-age children between the ages of five and 14 years who are at risk of parasitic worm infections in the State.
The exercise which is being implemented in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health and a non-governmental organisation, Evidence Action, holds in 10 soil-transmitted helminthiasis endemic Local Governments, namely: Ajeromi/Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Badagry, Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Ojo and Shomolu.
Speaking on the modalities for the implementation of the exercise, the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi disclosed that the five-day exercise will commence from Tuesday, 22nd to Saturday, 26th November 2022.
He added that children, aged five and 14 years, in schools and communities in the 10 LGAs will be dewormed and treated for soil-transmitted helminthiasis using Albendazole Tablets.
Abayomi disclosed that more than 1.5 billion people, representing 24% of the world’s population, are infected with soil-transmitted helminth infections, adding that over 875 million of this population are children.
He explained that Nigeria has the second-largest population of infected children worldwide with a prevalence of about 29 million cases, bringing to the fore the need to put in place strategies to treat and eliminate soil-transmitted helminth and schistosomiasis infections.
The Commissioner noted that School-age children are particularly vulnerable and most at risk, stressing that the infection poses a serious threat to children’s health, education, and economic potential as school-age children harbour the highest intensity of infection by soil-transmitted helminths.
Abayomi noted that school-based deworming is an important evidence-based strategy to treat children at risk of parasitic worm infections, adding that teachers and community health workers have been trained to safely and effectively administer the medicines to the children.
While urging residents in the affected LGAs to take advantage of exercise, the Commissioner noted that the exercise reflects the State Government’s commitment towards a worm-free State for all, especially for school-age children.
Also speaking, the South-West Programme Manager, Evidence Action, Maryann Edeh, who represented the Director of West and Central Africa, noted that the school-based deworming programme is an effective and cost-effective strategy to ensure that the diseases disrupting the educational growth of children are treated.
She explained that Evidence Action has over the years lent supporting hands to assist governments across the world in the organisation of various programmes, stressing that the organisation is currently targeting the deworming of over 1.3 million school children in Lagos. She, however, added that the deworming exercise is not limited to children in school alone.
Edeh, therefore, encouraged parents residing in the affected LGAs where the exercise is being held to ensure that their children and wards within the target age bracket receive deworming treatment, noting that the treatment is free and effective.