The Ghana Health Service has begun a mass deworming exercise intended to benefit about 1.9 million children of school going age across 15 regions in the country.
The exercise which will specifically target children between five and 14, commenced yesterday and will end on December 9, 2022.
The Ahafo Region is not included and no reasons have been given yet.
According to the Ghana Health Service, the project will be undertaken in 11,322 public and private schools in 89 districts spread across the 15 regions.
Deputy Director-General of the GHS, Dr Anthony Adofo Ofosu, who disclosed this at a media briefing said the exercise themed: “Achieving health equity to end schistosomiasis”, is aimed at improving the health of the children.
He urged parents, guardians and caregivers to corporate by ensuring their children eat well before going to school.
Dr Ofosu said the ultimate goal was to improve the health of the children to reduce absenteeism and improve academic performance, as well as the quality of basic education in the country.
He added that by reducing the transmission of infection in the community, deworming substantially improved health and school participation for both treated and untreated school-aged children.
Dr Ofosu said besides school-aged children being the most at-risk age group for those parasitic infections, the most cost-effective way for delivering regular deworming medicines to children on a large scale was through the school system, where there was a high concentration of school-aged children who were in close contact with the community.
He said Praziquantel (600mg) and Albendazole (400mg), the medicines of choice, would be administered to each child, adding that the dosage was by height, using a measuring strip, while the medicines would be administered under the strict supervision of teachers and health workers.
He said the value of the medicines and the cost of implementing the deworming exercise were immense, running into several millions of Ghana cedis, noting that the media were expected to play a key role in disseminating relevant information on the exercise to the public to improve the medicine uptake and minimise confusion.
“May I say that these medicines have been proved safe for use and have been used for these treatments over the years in Ghana and elsewhere, with little or no discomfort,” he said.
He added that every school had been mapped to a health facility in the country, and as such all health facilities had been put on the alert to manage any adverse drug effect free of charge should any case be recorded.
He explained that a cascaded national trainer of trainers’ workshop was conducted in Kumasi from September this year to provide orientation for School Health Education Programme officers, pharmacists, neglected tropical diseases coordinators and other stakeholders, adding: “School-based deworming, therefore, has its full impact when delivered within an integrated school health system.”
He said children who were out of school are expected to be mobilised and directed to nearby schools for treatment.