Lagos targets 1.3 million school children for mass deworming in 10 councils
Lagos State government, yesterday, commenced a free school-based deworming exercise to treat soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH), targeting 1.3 million school-aged children between ages 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 councils, including Ajeromi/Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Badagry, Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Ojo and Somolu.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who spoke on the modalities for the implementation of the exercise, said that the five-day deworming would be carried out from Tuesday, November 22 to Saturday, November 26, 2022.
He added that children between the ages of five and 14 in schools and communities in the 10 local councils would be dewormed and treated for soil-transmitted helminthiasis using Albendazole tablets during the exercise.
Abayomi disclosed that more than 1.5 billion people, representing 24 per cent of the world’s population, were infected with soil-transmitted helminthiasis infections, adding that over 875 million of the population are children.
He said 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 helminthiasis 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 helminthiasis.
While urging residents in the affected local councils to take advantage of the exercise, Abayomi noted that the exercise reflects the state government’s commitment towards a worm-free state for all, especially school-aged 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.