… Targets 1.3 Million Children in 10 Endemic LGAs
Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Health and in partnership with a non-governmental Organisation; Evidence Action, has today commenced mass administration of deworming medicine for the treatment and prevention of Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) in 10 local government areas of the State.
Speaking today during the official flag-off of the exercise held at St. Peter Anglican Primary School, Alausa, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi explained that Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) which is prevalent in school-age children is a significant infectious public health burden in Nigeria that result from poor sanitation and hygiene conditions.
According to him, STH is a worm infection that interferes with nutrient uptake; and can lead to anemia, malnourishment and impaired mental, physical and cognitive development which usually pose a serious threat to children’s health, education, and productivity.
He said, “Previously, there has been small-scale deworming activities in the state against STH and Schistosomiasis; however, with the support of the Federal Ministry of Health and our supporting partner, Evidence Action, we have set out plans to implement a state-wide deworming treatment for all enrolled and unenrolled school age children who are at –risk using a coordinated approach called School-Based Deworming Mass Administration of Medicines”.
The Commissioner who was represented by the Lagos State Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTD, Mr. Olanrewaju Jenrola noted that State treatment strategy is based on the prevalence of STH being determined by a state-wide mapping and scientific survey as spelt out by the guidelines from Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.
“Annual mass deworming is very important for our children, as it will ensure their improved physical and cognitive growth, resistance to other infections and improved school performance.
“Moreover, mass deworming is in direct support and will positively impact Nigeria’s progression toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals as well as Government’s top health priority in reducing under nutrition and anemia”, Abayomi said.
While noting that a total of 1,333,165 school-aged children in public and private primary and junior secondary schools in 10 endemic LGAs of Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Apapa, Badagry, Epe, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Ojo and Shomolu are targeted to be dewormed during the STH treatment exercise, the Commissioner stated that the exercise will come to an end on Friday 21st May, 2021.
“The School-based deworming campaign is an important evidence-based strategy to treat children at risk of parasitic worm infections. The state is proud to be able to provide treatment across the endemic LGAs through active collaboration with other line ministries and in partnership with Evidence Action.
“As widely known, the universal health coverage of all Lagosians is part of the key campaign proponents of this present administration. This intervention is being implemented in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and State Universal Basic Education Board, traditional rulers, community stakeholders, LGA health coordinators and other key personnel in the aforementioned LGAs”, Abayomi said .
Earlier, in her remarks, the County Director, Evidence Action, Dr. Ima Chima stated 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 Evidence Action; which is an international organization, has over the years lent supporting hands to governments across the world in the implementation of evidence-based and cost effective programs to reduce the burden of poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
Chima stated that Evidence Action is providing technical assistance towards the successful implementation of the mass administration of deworming medicines which targets the deworming of over 1.3 million children in Lagos.
“Over the last four years, we have significantly increased our program reach, from treating approximately 600,000 children in 2016 to over 4.3 million children in 2019. We have also been supporting the Federal Ministry of Health to develop and disseminate a national STH and schistosomiasis control strategy and implementation guidelines for 2020-2025, to support standardized, high-quality school-based deworming in the country.
“We are an international organization with a presence in several countries of the world and we have a track record of supporting governments across the world to set up programs like this. We are particularly honoured that we are able to extend this technical assistance to Lagos State in the South West; this is our third state where we have supported school based deworming”, She said.
Amongst others stakeholders present at the event were representatives of the Commissioner for Education; Chairman State Universal Education Board; National Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Nse Akpan and Coordinator Schistosomiasis and Soil Transmitted Helminths, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Obiageli Nebe