DOH conducts deworming drive in schools

MANILA-- The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday marked its third year of nationwide drive to eliminate soil transmitted helminths (STH) or intestinal worms in children.

"Ang batang may bulate ay mahina, walang sigla, malungkot, 'di masyadong makagalaw at naapektuhan ang talino," said DOH Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial to school-age children in P. Bernardo Elementary School in District 4, Quezon City.

Ubial also discussed the effects of intestinal worms on children, saying the parasitic worms feed on the body's nutrients. It affects children's growth, nourishment and performance in school.

Due to these effects, the department and the World Health Organization (WHO) targeted to deworm children to achieve the target of 85 percent coverage three years ago.

National School Deworming Day (NSDD) was first rolled out in 2015.

"Umabot na tayo sa 85 percent na na-deworm at umabot na lang ang prevalence rate ng 28 percent. So from 65 percent to 28 percent, ibig sabihin epektibo talaga ang NSDD," she said.

In 2003, the prevalence rate was 65 percent nationwide or 2 of every 3 students in elementary and high school.

"Hopefully after 5 years ay bumaba ang infestation rates in the country to less than 20 percent (in 2022)," she added.

The nationwide target for deworming this month is over 17 million children.

The program is in partnership with schools and local government units (LGUs). Children who are 5 to 14 years old in public schools can avail the deworming pills.

The mass administration of deworming is done twice a year, every January and July.

Aside from the deworming done in public schools, children in communities are also provided with deworming tablets.

Present during the deworming activities were officials from the Department of Education (DepEd) and Johnson & Johnson (Philippines) Inc.

Through the WHO, Jeffrey Go, Managing Director of J&J Phils has donated 46,000,000 tablets of Mebendazole used to deworm school-aged children.

It is our commitment to foster a healthy community that will address public health challenges like the soil transmitted helminthiasis, with a goal to improve health and nutrition of school-aged children in the country, said Go.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, Go said aside from deworming, it is also important to instill to children the importance of handwashing.

"So it has to go hand in hand. Proper hygiene is very important -- washing of hands is one of the things that we remind school children to do all the time," he said when asked of ways on how children can be protected from other illnesses.

Source: Philippine News Agency