By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
In a move to tackle Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), the Lagos State Government has initiated a free school-based mass deworming program across ten endemic Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the State.
Partnering with the Federal Ministry of Health and a Non-governmental organization, Evidence Action, the campaign aims to treat 1.4 million school-aged children between five and 14 years old, who are susceptible to parasitic worm infections in Lagos State.
Speaking at the flag-off of the exercise today, at CMS Primary School, Bariga, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi explained that the mass deworming exercise will hold in 10 soil transmitted helminthiasis endemic local governments including of Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Badagry, Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Ojo and Shomolu.i
According to a release by Tunbosun Ogunbanwo Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Health, the Commissioner 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 Mebendazole Tablets (500mg) during the exercise.
Prof. Abayomi who was represented by the Lagos State Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Coordinator, Mrs. Modupe Dawodu further disclosed that the exercise would run for five days, from Tuesday 21st to Saturday 25th November, 2023.
In his words: “The Lagos State Ministry of Health is happy to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and Evidence Action to commence implementation of the school based deworming exercise targeting children 5 to 14 years to treat soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) using Mebendazole; a medication used to treat infections caused by worms.
“This round of treatment will focus on 10 endemic LGAs – Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Badagry, Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Ojo and Shomolu reaching approximately over 1.4 million at-risk children in public and private primary and junior secondary schools and the communities with safe and free medicines received from the Federal Ministry of Health through the World Health Organization drug donation program to be administered at no cost to eligible children.”
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’ commitments towards a worm-free state for all, especially school aged children.
Also speaking, the Country Director, Evidence Action, Pharm Tope Ogunbi who was represented by the Senior Program Manager, Maryann Edeh 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 noted that the mass deworming campaign reflects the commitment of the Lagos state government through the ministries of health, basic education and State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) and Evidence Action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals one and three, as well as the Government’s top health priorities in reducing poverty.
The Country Director explained that Evidence Action has delivered over 1.8 billion deworming treatments globally and is happy to continue to support governments across the world and in Nigeria with cost-effective and evidence based health interventions to reduce the burden of poverty. She stressed that Evidence Action through the Deworm the World program is proud to collaborate with the Lagos State Ministry of Health to provide mass deworming treatment of STH targeting 1.4 million children across the 10 endemic LGAs through active collaboration with other line ministries in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Public school teachers and community health workers have been trained to safely and effectively administer this medicine to children, during the school days, and in communities with supervision and support of frontline health workers in the state”, She said.
She 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.