Ghana kickstarts deworming of 1.3 mln school children

ACCRA, Oct. 6 — Authorities in Ghana have kickstarted here the
national school deworming exercise across the country to protect children
against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

The five-day program, from Oct. 2 to 6, is part of the efforts aimed at
reducing the prevalence of NTDs, a group of infectious and parasitic
diseases, in Ghana by 2020. This year’s edition is expected to benefit some
1.3 million children in 8,200 public and private basic schools (from
kindergarten to junior high school) in 47 districts across the West African
country, according to the officials. Children will be dewormed by head
teachers and school health teachers who have been trained to administer
deworming medicines and to teach their students about the dangers of
worms. Health authorities have encouraged parents to participate in the
exercise to help the country eliminate the NTDs which affect about seven
million people yearly in Ghana, disrupting the academic schedules of
affected children.

The annual deworming exercise has resulted in significant improvement in
the health status of pupils. About 17 NTDs are found in the most
im­poverished communities of the world. In Ghana, there are 12 of such
diseases, including, amongst others, soil transmitted worms and
schistosomiasis diseases (bilharzias) which are most common in humans and
the most vulnerable are school children aged from 5 to 14 years.Worm
infection may lead to diarrhea, fatigue and loss of weight, which
ultimately results in stunted growth, loss of cognitive function and school
absen­teeism. – XINHUA