THE Cross River State Government has begun a deworming exercise across the 18 local government areas of the state in a bid to prevent Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) amongst children.
The initiative seeks to prevent soil-transmitted helminthic, a disease that affects minors between the ages of five to 14 years.
The Director General of the Cross River Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong flagged off the deworming exercise on Tuesday, November 15, at the Government Primary School Anantigha in Calabar South Local Government Area.
While explaining that the disease is endemic in about nine local government areas of the state, Ekpenyong noted that the five-day exercise would target 8000 children in the eighteen LGAs.
“Today we are here for deworming and that is because it is an issue of concern to us. Despite what a child eats, once there is a worm, they will begin to manifest, and the child will start looking malnourished.”
Ekpenyong who represented the state governor, Ben Ayade, disclosed that the preventive measure is the administration of mebendazole.
“Globally, about 1.4 billion are affected by the soil-transmitted helminthic and about nine local government areas are endemic with the disease. That’s why we introduce the deworming exercise. We are hoping that we can reach 8,000 children. With mebendazole, we are reaching those between five and 14 years of age across the entire state.
“I encourage caregivers and parents to take advantage of this exercise, and take them to the health facilities for deworming. We no longer want to see our children suffer from these diseases,” she said.
Ekpenyong stressed that the exercise is to ensure children, especially those in primary and secondary schools who are also between the ages of five to 14 years, are dewormed against the soil-transmitted helminthiasis.
“This is because helminthiasis is one of the very common tropical diseases in our communities and when there is worm infestation in a child, such a child would be affected in so many ways. It could prevent the child from absorbing nutrients and vitamins from food. It can also cause problems like anemia and stunted growth,” she added.
Speaking on the intervention by the state government, the representative of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Chogudo Sule, said, “The school feeding programme was concerned about the daily nutritional requirement of school children across Nigeria, which can be achieved through nutritious meals in conjunction with periodic deworming to boost the immunity of children and assist their bodies fight against infections.”