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Deworming campaign treats more than 5 million children, mothers

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Kigali: The first-ever deworming campaign since last week throughout the whole country has seen 5 million school-aged children, 1.5 million pre-school children and 50,000 expectant mothers given necessary doses, the campaign’s partners announced.

At least 65 per cent of all Rwandans suffer from intestinal worms, according to research completed in June by the National Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) programme. The worms also remain the most common infections in rural communities with poor hygiene and limited access to clean water.

Intestinal worms, health officials say, cause serious blood loss leading to iron-deficiency anemia, malnutrition, and mental and physical disabilities in millions of children. They are said to be the second-highest cause of all health clinic visits in Rwanda.

The parasites cause diarrhea that is a leading cause of death among children in developing nations, according to Action Against Hunger. Despite this danger, campaigners say the disease has not received as much attention as malaria, HIV/AIDS or Tuberculosis.

Now a campaign involving the government, in collaboration with the Earth Institute at Columbia University's NTD/Access Project, the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, UNICEF, PAM, World Health Organization, and the Red Cross saw all the 30 districts covered.

Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson – who is the new Global Ambassador of The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, joined Rwanda's Ministry of Health in launching the deworming campaign in the Nyaruguru District as part of its Mother Child Health Week.

"For the cost of deworming one pet in the United States, we can deworm 180 children in Africa. We have the tools; we need the political will to get the resources to those who need our help," stated Secretary Thompson.

"The joy that I have seen in the faces of the mothers of Rwanda through this new campaign should be an inspiration for us all to unite and act to end the neglect." Secretary Thompson traveled through Rwanda last week as part of his first medical diplomacy mission on behalf of the Global Network.  

Nurses at Nyamagabe Health Centre in Nyamagabe District of the Southern Province say that intestinal worms are the second most frequent problem of patients, after respiratory diseases. The same situation is found at Kigeme Health Centre, another hospital in Nyamagabe District.

He Mother Child Health Week, according to the Health Ministry, was to strengthen the survival of women and children of Rwanda, as well as to empower communities to take ownership of their health.

In addition to the health impact of intestinal worms, just one disease, chronic hookworm infection in childhood, reduces future wage earnings by an extraordinary 43%, the campaign partnership said in a statement on Thursday.

In addition to deworming, interventions distributed last week included immunizations, Vitamin A, mosquito nets, and contraceptive methods for family planning. (End)
 

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