The Ghana Health Service (GHS), in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service (GES), is to embark on a programme dubbed: ‘Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and School Deworming Exercise.’

The annual School Deworming Exercise, which has its focus on children from kindergarten to Junior High School, will begin on the 26th of October 2016 in all public and private schools in the districts.

In a presentation, Mr Kofi Marfo, Deputy Programmes Manager, GHS, explained NTDs as a group of 17 infectious diseases which affected over one billion people worldwide, most of whom lived in extreme poverty and in remote rural, urban slums and conflict areas.

Mr Marfo said the goal of the programme was to reduce the prevalence of NTDs in Ghana to the level that was no longer of public health significance by 2020 and eliminate it by 2025.

He said Ghana was endemic to 12 NTDs, five of which had been targeted for Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for their control.

The five, he said, were Onchocerciasis (River blindness) which is endemic in nine out of 10 regions, Lymphatic Filarias (Elephantiasis) which is endemic in 8 out of 10 regions, Eye Trachoma in 2 regions, Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) in all the regions and Intestinal worms, which were found in all the districts.

Mr Marfo said the strategies used in the exercise included MDA, health education, morbidity, monitoring and evaluation.

He identified refusal by some individuals and schools to participate in the deworming exercises and poor timing of the exercise as some of the challenges encountered during the previous exercise.

He said the other challenges identified were weak collaboration between GES and GHS, weak social mobilization, delay in reporting and incomplete and inaccurate data on schools.

On the way forward, Mr Marfo said plans were underway to embark on education on early reporting, conduct community MDA in 47 Districts across all 10 regions, organize competition programs, enhance collaboration between GES and GHS and find innovative ways to reach out of school children, intensify social mobilization and ensure that all districts provided accurate and complete data.

Source: Government of Ghana.

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