The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Training will tomorrow begin the deworming campaign to eradicate Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH) in school children aged from five years to 15 years.
The deworming exercise will run until 29 September 2017 in seven districts namely, Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Berea, Thaba-Tseka, Qacha’s Nek, Quthing and Mohale’s Hoek. The campaign will be conducted every six months until 2019 as the target is to have eliminated STH by 2020.
The Health Ministry’s International Health Regulations Manager, Khotso Mahomo, on Friday told the Sunday Express that children needed to be protected from STH because it impaired the immune system.
Mr Mahomo said children in the five to 15 age group were highly susceptible to STH because they were in contact with the soil and sometimes ate soil which could contaminated.
“So we decided to carry out the campaigns at schools where we will give out the deworming pill,” Mr Mahomo said, adding, “Those below the age of five are given the pill during their routine clinic checkups and we had to ensure that we close that gap that is not reached”.
“We want to reach the global target by 2020 so we will work very had in the campaigns that we will be starting on Monday (tomorrow). After the completion of the campaigns we will go back to schools to do tests on the children’s stool.”
He said a 2015 study revealed that there was a 48 percent prevalence of STH in the country.
“Lesotho mapped the prevalence of Schistosomiasis and STH in 2015 to find out the epidemiology and distribution of these diseases in Lesotho as the first step towards identifying, developing and implementing appropriate interventions to control and eliminate these diseases.
“The main objectives of the mapping were to estimate the prevalence of schistosomiasis and STH amongst school children aged 10 to 14 years and 11 months in each district and describe the distribution of schistosomiasis and STH in Lesotho.”
He said they decided to leave out Mafeteng, Maseru and Mokhotlong because they had less than 20 percent prevalence and therefore they had to focus on those districts “which are more in danger”.
Mr Mahomo further said 2516 primary school children participated in the national mapping survey, adding that the overall national prevalence of STH is 47.6 percent.
He said preventive measures against STH included preventive chemotherapy as well as health education on hygiene in schools and at community level.
“We advise for the provision of access to clean water for hygienic practices in communities and schools, improved sanitation in schools and communities, environmental control to minimise contamination of the environment with human and animal excreta.
“Systems and guidelines on the management of worms should be developed and implemented as well as deworming of animals by relevant ministry,” he said.