The government intends to deworm at least 86,400 children in Taita Taveta County.
The programme is targeting children aged between two and 14 years. The deworming exercise is on its second cycle this year and is part of the national government’s effort to improve learners’ health across the country.
Launching the exercise at Mwanyambo Primary School in Voi, Taita Taveta County Quality and Standards Assurance Officer, Dr. John Okoth Odhiambo, said the exercise would be carried out in all public and private schools across the County.
“The exercise is taking place in all schools in the four Sub-Counties. We also target children who may not be enrolled in school but living within the vicinity of our deworming centres,” he said.
He also highlighted the importance of the exercise to the overall performance of learners both in the short and long term.
“It is important that we get rid of worms because infected children may not achieve the learning outcomes that are expected of them. This programme ensures the children are healthy to attend school,” he added.
To evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the exercise, Dr Okoth said that data would be collected during the exercise so that the statistics can be used to inform future strategies that will be used to administer the next exercise.
“We are keen on the data. We are taking record of all the dewormed children which will then be submitted to the Sub-County Offices and eventually the Ministry of Health so as to monitor the prevalence of worm infection in the Country,” he added.
Head of School Health Programme in the County, Ms. Miriam Wakio, said the programme seeks to curb the prevalence of parasites in children as they are particularly susceptible to intestinal worms.
She said that the worms have a major effect on the learners’ mental and physical development, cognitive abilities and overall well-being.
“Children are more prone to infection. Some types of intestinal worms even suck blood thus causing health issues which in turn affects school attendance and performance,” she said.
She also urged parents to ensure their children are dewormed at least every three months as the national school-based deworming drive is an annual exercise.
Since 2009, the Government through the Ministry of Health and Education has provided deworming treatment to children in schools, as intestinal worms are a major public health concern in the country with at least six million children at risk nationally, according to the health ministry.