‘De-worming tablets reach less than 50% target’

In order to effectively tackle intestinal parasitic worms in children, especially the under-5s, a Deputy Director and Programme Manager, National Deworming Programme at the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Dr. Obiageli Nebe has lamented the rejection of deworming tablets, saying out of the 40 million children targeted for the National Deworming Programme across the federation, the FMOH has reached less than 20 million, representing less than 50 per cent of the national target.

Against this background, Nebe has urged parents and guardians to accept deworming tablets, saying they were not only free, they are quality medicines donated by big pharmaceutical companies in western developed countries.

The Deputy Director that was concerned that deworming medicines were rejected in some of the places they are distributed free for the benefit of both children and adults, said the FMOH was creating awareness to educate Nigerians on the advantage of deworming children and adults.

She disclosed these during a presentation ‘Overview of Schistosomiasis and Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis Elimination Programme in Nigeria’.

She spoke during a two-day media dialogue on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Control in Nigeria, which held in Ibadan recently, organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information & Culture in collaboration with UNICEF.

Speaking on why the medication is sometimes rejected, Nebe said: “In some of the places we distribute these medicines, when there is any form of reaction due to the effect of the medicine, caused by the worm load in the child, thereby causing systemic reaction or due to the fact that the child didn’t eat well before taking the drug, some people reject the medicine. We try to educate them, create awareness and manage such situations.”

She stated that in some situations, there are rumours that the medicines cause disturbance to the consumers’ bodies but they don’t realise that the reaction happened due to the systemic reaction of those drugs.

“We try to convince them by doing a lot of health education. We also advise the communities, Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and community leaders in order to sensitise them and make sure they accept the medicine.”

Although, she described the problem as a big challenge on its own and yet, the target date is nearby.

According to Nebe, before now: “It is expected that by 2020 we must have gotten to the bench mark of reaching at least 75 per cent of schools, but up till now, we’ve not been able to reach that bench mark.

“It’s a big issue because we still have a lot of significant gap in terms of funding and poor sanitary environment all over the country both in the rural and urban areas.”

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