THE Ministry of Health will begin the third round of its exercise to deworm children on the 24th of this month.
During the exercise, the children will be given an anthelmintic drug to rid them of helminths parasites that include roundworms, flukes and tapeworms.
In an interview with Lesotho Times, the Ministry of Health’s international health regulations manager, Khotso Mahomo, said after investigations in 2015, the worms were discovered in Butha Buthe Leribe, Qacha’s Nek and Thaba Tseka. The four districts constituted 50 percent of affected areas in the country.
“The first round of deworming was meant to start in 2016 but because of the integration of immunisation campaign which was already in progress at that time, we had to cancel,” Mr Mahomo said.
“In February 2017 February we commenced with deworming reaching a 79 percent of children in all 10 districts.”
He said they continued with the second round of exercise in September 2017 and managed to deworm seven districts despite the challenges that the financial challenges that the government was facing at the time.
“We only managed to deworm 57 percent of children in seven districts because we could not reach other places due to lack of finances,” he said.
Mr Mahomo explained that after the investigations which were done in 2015, it was discovered that the only worms found were the soil-transmitted helminths adding that these worms were found in a form of eggs in the soil.
“These are worms which are transmitted through soil contaminated with feaces,” he said.
He said when the worms enter the body (host), they impair the nutritional status in multiple ways and they feed on tissues, including blood, which leads to a loss of iron and protein.
“The worms increase malabsorption of nutrients and roundworm may possibly compete for vitamin A in the intestine,” he said.
A child with worms does not reach the maximum potential of their growth, they develop a big stomach and they become inactive, he said.
Mr Mahomo said when the worms have reached infestation, it is difficult to control them and this leads to the patient needing surgery as they may start coming through the nose, the mouth and the anus.
He recommended that health education, especially on hygiene in schools and at community level be strengthened so as to prevent worm infection.
Mr Mahomo said provision of access to clean water for hygienic practices in communities and schools should be improved.
“Sanitation should be improved in schools and communities, environmental control-minimise contamination of the environment with human and animal excreta and deworming of animals by relevant ministry should be made,” he said.
Mr Mahomo said systems and guidelines on management of worms should be developed and implemented in the country.
He also recommended further investigation on the magnitude of taeniasis (tapeworm) and fascioliasis (fluke worm).