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Kenya leads continent in fight against worms

Macharia gave a keynote address at the Soil Transmitted Helminthes Community Day at the Institut Pasteur in Paris/COURTESY

Macharia gave a keynote address at the Community Day at the Institut Pasteur in Paris/COURTESY

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 16 – Kenya’s effort at combating worm infestations among school going children was recognised at the Soil Transmitted Helminthes (STH) Community Day in Paris, France.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia gave the keynote address on Kenya’s National School-Based Deworming Programme (NSBDP), the first large scale effort of its kind on the African continent.

“We are intrigued by the previously unthought-of possibility of attempting to eliminate worms completely and are eager to use our experience to test that possibility,” Macharia said in his address.

In 2012, through the NSBDP, 5.9 million children aged between two and 14 in over 13,000 primary schools across the country received treatment.

“Surpassing treatment targets by 20 percent, Kenya’s NSBDP aims to treat five million children for at least five years, contributing greatly to eliminating Soil Transmitted Helminthes (STH) as a public health problem in Kenya,” a communiqué from the Ministry of Health (MoH) reads.

Personnel from the MoH and Ministry of Education Science and Technology play a joint leadership role in ensuring that the programme is implemented in every district that is within the programme treatment areas, and targets every public and private primary school therein.

Teachers are trained to provide treatment to all children who will access this service at the school, including those who are not enrolled.

And given the success of the NSBDP in Kenya, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) plans to roll out similar programmes in Africa and Asia.

“Following the success of our partnership with the Government of Kenya in reducing intestinal worm infestations in children from 35 to 10 percent in one year, CIFF is now committing an additional USD50 million over the next five years to implement large-scale systematic approaches to deworming in a number of countries,” Jamie Cooper-Hohn, Chair of CIFF said.

Convened by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CIFF, the STH Community Day allows international experts on deworming and neglected tropical diseases to gain input and share lessons in order to maximise financial and drug commitments to deworming.

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