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Health officials to vaccinate pupils against worms

The state of the only pit latrine serving Lung’a primary school in Ugenya, Siaya county in a picture taken on October 04,2016. Lack of sanitation amenities has pushed both boys and girls to share the torn iron sheet walled structure to releave self. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)

Public health officials plan to roll out a massive vaccination programme for pupils against worms.

Disease surveillance teams say children in the region were increasingly becoming physically and mentally impaired due to various types of worms fueled by poor sanitation and hygiene.

Random sampled surveys in most nursery and primary schools within the county and its surroundings revealed that hygiene conditions were deplorable.

Most of the institutions lacked proper sanitation facilities. The compounds were littered with dirt on top of which children played.

According to the Nyanza diseases and surveillance coordinator Elly Nyambok, barefoot pupils in the area were especially prone to hook worms.

Prolonged drought in the region has further complicated hygiene conditions in many schools.

“It is the reason why we have resolved to embark on mass vaccination to control the soil-transmitted helminth infections prevalent in schools,” he explained.

Given that these worms do not multiply in the human host, Nyambok explained that re-infection is likely to occur only as a result of contact with ineffective stages of the worms development.

Public health officials plan to roll out periodic treatment of people living in worm-prone areas, especially targeting pre-school and school-age children.

The surveillance team plans to reduce the intensity of worm infections and protect infected individuals through periodic treatment.

Public health officers called for periodic de-worming to be integrated with immunisation programmes for preschool children or integrated with other school-based health programmes.

Worms feed on host tissues, including blood, leading to a massive loss of iron and protein. The loss is especially damaging for children whose physical and mental energy is severely affected.

“The worms increase  mal-absorption of nutrients. In addition, roundworm compete for vitamin A in their victim’s intestines,” said Dr James Obondi.

Dr Obondi said health and hygiene education were key to fighting worms.

“sanitation is always ignored and this increases risks,” Obondi said.

He called for promotion of hand-washing and improved sanitation in schools to forestall infections.

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