The Ghana Health Service (GHS), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MoE), will from today organise the nationwide mass schoolchildren deworming exercise, aimed at reducing the prevalence of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Ghana.
The one-week campaign which will distribute Abendazol to control soil transmitted Helminthes and Praziquantel to control schistosomiasis is expected to reach all schoolgoing age children from 108 districts of the country.
Dr Kofi Marfo of the GHS, presenting the burden of disease on the country, highlighted that Ghana is endemic for 12 NTDs, out of which five employ mass drug administration for their control.
“Lymphatic filarias is endemic in 98 out of 126 constituency affecting about 12 million people, onchocerciasis is endemic in nine out of 10 regions and affects about 5 million people. Trachoma is endemic in two regions, while schistosomiasis and intestinal worm is mapped and endemic in all districts,” he disclosed.
He said the diseases are transmitted through contact with contaminated water which is inhabited by certain types of water snails which carry and release the infected worm.
“Symptoms of schistosomiasis include blood in urine and stool, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and possible cancer of the bladder,” he added.
Dr Marfo indicated that globally, the disease is expected to be controlled by 2020 and eliminated by 2025, hence government’s decision to organise the mass drug administration once every year to control the diseases among children especially.
He said the school mass drug administration will be followed with community-based treatment of adults in highly-infected communities as well as health education which will highlight the avoidance of contact with infected water and stoppage of open defecation which fosters the transfusion of the worms.