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Abia first lady initiates deworming programme

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By Mercy Kelani

This will prevent children from having preventable soil transmitted helminths.

An In-School Deworming Programme was organised by Mrs. Priscilla Otti, the Wife of Abia State Governor, for 60,000 school children between the age range of 6 to 14 in Abia State. The programme was described by the governor, during his speech, as a testament of the unwavering commitment of the government to the lives of Abia children. Mrs. Priscilla Otti announced that it is dreadful and frightening, owing to the statistics that 35 million children, who are around the age range of 5 – 14, contracted different soil transmitted helminths.

Approximately, at an estimate of 2.9 million, the children suffered from moderate intensity of infections to heavy and critical stages, and this mostly happened around Southern Nigeria. As a result of this, the cognitive development, growth and health of a child can be severely impacted by parasitic and worm infections. She declared that it is the responsibility of everybody to guarantee that children are free from preventable diseases through the elimination of the silent threat of the infections. Otti stated that the major phase of the activity would be established in Osisioma, Obingwa, Isiala Ngwa South, Ikwuano, Bende and Ohafia Local Government Areas.

Worm infestation is known to be an helminthic infection.

She called on the public, teachers and parents to contribute to the initiative. This is to emphasize on the active participation of the group of people who are in the state to contribute and add to the success of the initiative. In addition, Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo, the Commissioner for Health, stated that there would be the deployment of all necessary resources by the Ministry of Health to support and contribute to the deworming campaign initiative. Dr. Ugonma Agomuo who represented Okoronkwo noted that the advantages of administering deworming treatments on children should not be taken for granted.

Emphatically, she restated the government’s commitment on the system of improving and developing welfare and health sector of the people in Abia State. In addition, Mrs. Ifeoma Thomas, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Vulnerable Groups and Poverty Alleviation, stated that the programme has enormous advantages and it should be known that it has not been organised before, which makes this the first attempt. She said that worm infestation is known to be an helminthic infection which preys on consumed nutrients.

Severe threats are posed by these infections.

Furthermore, she highlighted the effects of the infections, that are recognized as the consequences of helminthic infection. The effects are impaired cognitive, physical and mental development, malnourishment, and anaemia. Also, she stated that severe threats are posed by these infections on the productivity, education, growth and health of the children. According to the statement of Thomas, she asserted that the campaign and awareness will be centred on enlightenment to guarantee that children grow and develop well without any level of infection that might lead to sickness.

Also, the campaign is initiated to grow Abia children in an healthy society that is free from infestation of worm which could hamper their growth. Prof. Uche Eme, the Commissioner for Education, announced that many children in Abia suffered malnutrition as a result of the rapid spread of worm infestation. Hence, he implored all parents to ensure that their children are dewormed regularly and at the right time against this infection. Eme stated that awareness will be organized for schools immediately after the commencement of school activities to ensure that the initiative is beneficiary to the children.

Everyone is obligated to partake in the campaign.

Mrs. Carolyn Charles, the representative of Non-State Actors (NSA) Partners, announced the initiative, describing it as a preventive step to protect and guide the future and health of the children in Abia State. Charles added that, through the Accelerated Nutrition Results in Nigeria Project, NSAs had given out more than 1,040,000 units of albendazole to the children in Abia State, and still plans to offer more aid. She concluded her speech with a charge that it is the duty of everyone to partake in the campaign to drive out the dangerous worm infestation and ensure that children do not contact the preventable illness.

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