The Lagos State Government has commenced Mass Administration of Medicines (MAM) for school-aged children against Schistosomiasis, an acute and chronic Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) caused by parasitic worms, in nine Local Government Areas of the State where the disease is endemic.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, spoke at the MAM micro-planning meeting with stakeholders and partners held at the Ostra Hall in Alausa, Ikeja, noting that the exercise will be implemented in nine schistosomiases endemic LGAs including Kosofe, Eti-Osa, Oshodi-Isolo, Ikorodu, Alimosho, Ikeja, Agege, Ifako-Ijaiye and Surulere.
He said the exercise will be implemented in two phases, explaining that the first phase will run from the 29th of June to the 8th of July, 2022 in the aforementioned LGAs while the second phase of implementation would commence immediately at four other LGAs, namely Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Ibeju-Lekki and Lagos Mainland where the disease is co-endemic with Soil-Transmitted Helminths.
Ogboye disclosed that the mass administration of medicines for schistosomiasis control is part of the broader goal for the control and elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases in Lagos State.
His words: “The Lagos State Government is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Health and a non-governmental organisation, Mission to Save The Helpless (MITOSATH), to implement the administration of medicines for school-aged children. In 2019, the State Government, in collaboration with MITOSATH and WHO, carried out a successful mass administration of medicines for school-aged children in seven endemic LGAs. The successful intervention later served as a template for other States to follow”.
The Permanent Secretary explained that the process will involve the administration of oral medicine, Praziquantel, to school-aged children to achieve a timely intervention for the prevention and control of the disease to reduce the level of endemicity in affected communities.
“What we are trying to do is to give medicine to reduce the level of endemicity of Schistosomiasis so that we can actively control and eliminate the disease in our State”, he said.
In his remarks, the Executive Director, MITOSATH, Dr. Fransisca Olamiju, stated that the collaboration of MITOSATH, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos State Ministry of Health, is in pursuance of its objective to control and eliminate the NTD in Lagos, noting that the intervention takes off with immediate effect.
She explained further that the mass administration of medicine is for children between the ages of five and 14 years, adding that Praziquantel tablets would be administered to school-aged children for the prevention and control of the disease.
“The target is to reach 398,933 school-age children (5-14years) with Praziquantel tablets for the treatment and prevention of schistosomiasis in the endemic local government areas. We want the public to be aware that the drug, Praziquantel, is safe. Our plea is that parents, guardians and caregivers should ensure that their children are well fed before taking Praziquantel. We need to eliminate schistosomiasis because it is a neglected and hidden disease”, she said.