GHS to begin nationwide de-worming against bilharzia

By Lorlornyofm October 26, 2019 09:37

GHS to begin nationwide de-worming against bilharzia

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) will from November 4, begin a nationwide school de-worming exercise against bilharzia and intestinal worm infestation.

The five-day exercise primarily targeted at children from Kindergarten to Junior High School (JHS) is expected to protect the children from the disease which forms part of the five most prevalent neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the country.

As it stands, bilharzia and intestinal worm infestation is endemic in all districts of the country but the impending mass drug administration (MDA) will cover 205 districts which are most prone to the infection.

Briefing journalists on the exercise in Accra yesterday, Deputy Director of Administration, GHS, Mr Martin Ankomah indicated that mass drug administration which provides a single dose medication to eligible persons once or twice in a year remains the country’s best bet in controlling the NTDs burden.

“Implemented over three to seven years, MDA can significantly control the burden of NTDs and in some cases elimination can be achieved, hence, the need to annually administer medicines to vulnerable groups of the society like school aged children so as to protect them from these diseases.”

Mr Ankomah mentioned the effects of worm infestation in children, including reduction in cognitive development, reduced concentration, school absenteeism and high risk of susceptibility to other infections, urging the general public to observe good personal and environmental hygiene.

Highlighting the need for increased health education to complement the MDA exercises, the Deputy Director who represented the Director General again asked that children are restrained from swimming, walking or bathing in contaminated water bodies to avoid infection.

He assured that the medicines to be administered were safe, appealing to parents to “encourage their wards to participate in this exercise because aside protecting the children against the disease, it has benefits like promoting growth, preventing other infections and generally promoting good health and general wellbeing of the child.”

The NTDs Programme Director, Dr Benjamin Marfo in a presentation estimated that about six million children in both private and public schools will benefit from the MDA exercise.

He pointed out that though the disease affected all age groups and both sexes, children were most vulnerable and could suffer long term implications if not protected.

According to the Public Health Specialist, worst forms of bilharzia otherwise known as schistosomiasis could result in infertility in both men and women.

Other consequences of schistosomiasis he noted, could lead to ectopic pregnancy, retarded puberty, chronic anaemia, high risk of sexually transmitted infections and vesico-vaginal fistula among women.

Dr Marfo encouraged proper hand washing practices, improvement in safe water, latrine and sanitary facilities as well as observing food hygiene to guard against the disease.

On her part, Ghana Neglected Tropical Diseases Ambassador, Dr Joyce Aryee called for increased research into NTDs in the country to ensure that no one is left behind in proffering effective treatment.

Bilharzias is an infection caused by a parasitic worm that lives in fresh water in subtropical and tropical regions often affecting the bladder and leading to passing of bloody urine or stools.

Intestinal worms on the other hand are small organisms that can live in the human body and usually enter the body through contaminated foods, drinks, and soil, resulting in diarrhoea.


By Lorlornyofm October 26, 2019 09:37
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