A total of 1, 943,023 school-aged children in 89 districts are to be dewormed across the country, the Ghana Health Service has disclosed.
The deworming exercise which began on Monday, November 21, 2022, will target children in 11,322 schools to improve their health, lessen absenteeism to improve academic performance at the basic level.
Dr Anthony Adofo Ofosu, the Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, who made this known at a media engagement in Accra, said the exercise was important because besides school-aged children being the most at-risk age group for parasitic infections, it is the most cost-effective way for delivering regular deworming medicines to children on a large scale.
“Teachers would be responsible for delivering the deworming medicines to the school-age children at their respective schools with assistance from local health workers,” he stated.
The exercise, which is on the theme “Achieving Health Equity to End Schistosomiasis,” is a collaboration between the GHS and the Ghana Education Service (GES) and is expected to end on December 9, 2022.
It said only districts in category A with 50 per cent prevalence and category C with 10 per cent prevalence were targeted for treatment this year, and as such Ahafo Region, which had only category B schools were not covered.
Deworming is the administration of anthelminthic medicines to an eligible human population to rid them of helminth parasites such as schistosomes, roundworms, tapeworms, etc.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 1.5 billion people, or nearly one in four of the world’s population, are infected globally with intestinal worms with over 880 million school-aged children in need of treatment.
these infections were contracted through “infested water bodies or soil contaminated with faecal matter resulting in schistosomiasis or soil helminthiases infection and have its highest prevalence in school-age children, which is 5-14 years.”
The Deputy Director-General noted that Praziquantel (600mg) and Albendazole (400mg) dosage would be administered to each child according to the height under the strict supervision of teachers and health workers.
“Preferably, medicines should be administered immediately after the first lunch break or after children have been served food by the feeding programme to give the assurance that all children have eaten,” he added.
Dr Ofosu appealed to parents, guardians and caregivers to ensure their children eat before going to school.
He also urged schools (both public and private), parents irrespective of social status, gender, and religion to cooperate, collaborate and support the deworming exercise at the targeted districts and schools to improve coverage and help get rid Ghana of parasitic infections.
He assured that the drugs were safe for use and had little to no discomforts, adding that every school had been linked to a health facility which would manage any adverse drug effect for free.
He also stated that the COVID-19 protocols would be observed during the administration of drugs.
Mrs Theresa Oppong Mensah, the Director In-Charge of School Health Education of GES, pledged their continuous collaboration with the GHS as part of strategies to control and eliminate schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases in schools across the country.
She assured that the consent of parents and guardians had been sought to deworm their kids and appealed to the media to assist with continuous sensitization.
Mrs Mensah called for the support of all as worm infections had many detrimental health effects.