As part of the ongoing process on reducing the number of child death in the country, Helen Keller International with support from UNICEF, WFP and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation held a training of District Directors on deworming of children.
The programme was financed by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology.
According to Dr. A. J. Moosa- Programme Manager, National School Health and Adolescent Programme, many children in Sierra Leone are infested with different kinds of worms. Children who live in areas that are without safe water supply and proper sanitation are especially at risk.
He added lot of food and nutrients that children eat are used by worms to grow and reproduce, rather than to nourish the children themselves. Children with these worms do not grow well, and efforts by house and government to ensure that children receive an adequate, health and balanced diet through such interventions as school nutrition programmes are undermined by worms.
Further, Dr. Moosa said regular deworming of children can be regarded as an extremely cost- effective strategy for promoting the health of our children. Communities and children need to be encouraged to practice good hygiene. They need to know the importance of washing their hands after visiting the toilet, and also to wash fruit and vegetables before eating them .
He finally stated that the success of deworming will depend on many role-players working together. He therefore said “We are lucky to have Helen Keller International as the mother of deworming in Sierra Leone”.
Sr. Fatmata Lansana said that children with worms will grow in a slow pace as compared to children without them. Even when these children are in school, their performance is very poor as they do not normally pay attention to their class work.
She added children should swallow worm tablet, and the treatment is given to them at any time of the day.
Dr. Mary Hodges said that in Tonkolili eight of the eleven Districts were targeted and during that period the rate of affected children reduced, but with the people failing to continue with the treatment, the rate then went up more than fifty percent just as the remaining three Districts were not treated.
She added that this year’s treatment will be in eight Districts namely: Port Loko, Kambia, Moyamba, Pujehun, Bonthe, Bo, Tonkolili and Bombali. In Bo, Kakua, Badjia and komboya will be exempted and also in Tonkolili Gbonkolenkeh, Malal Mara, Kafe Simira, Yoni, Kholifa Mabang and Tane will also be exempted.
Further, Dr. Hodges said last year’s exercise was a big challenge and a great success, as a result of that she urged all representatives from various Districts to submit the exact number of schools and enrolled children in their District to ensure timely supply of treatment by Wednesday June 1st 2011.
According to Dr. Hodges, they will send one Master Trainer to two Districts to train Zonal Supervisors that will help to train Head Teachers at the Chiefdom level to ensure effective treatment of affected children in school. The Training will be on June 9th or 10th 2011.
By Alhaji Manika Kamara