Govt of­fers free mass treat­ment

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Whins­ley Masara Chron­i­cle Re­porter

THE Gov­ern­ment has em­barked on a coun­try­wide mass treat­ment ex­er­cise for ele­phan­ti­a­sis, bil­harzia and in­testi­nal worms tar­get­ing both chil­dren and adults.

The mass treat­ment cam­paigns for ele­phan­ti­a­sis and in­testi­nal worms started on Mon­day this week and will end on Saturday.

Bil­harzia will be treated be­tween Septem­ber 26 and Oc­to­ber 1.

The Min­istry of Health and Child Care in con­junc­tion with the Min­istry of Pri­mary and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion and other part­ners is run­ning the ex­er­cise.

Min­istry of Health and Child Welfare Di­rec­tor for Epi­demi­ol­ogy and Dis­ease Con­trol, Dr Por­tia Manangazira said an in­crease in ele­phan­ti­a­sis recorded in 39 dis­tricts last year ne­ces­si­tated the launch of the pro­gramme.

Ele­phan­ti­a­sis refers to a par­a­sitic in­fec­tion that causes ex­treme swelling in the arms and legs. The dis­ease is caused by the fi­lar­ial worm, which is trans­mit­ted from human to human via the fe­male mos­quito when it takes a blood meal.

The par­a­site grows into an adult worm that lives in the lym­phatic sys­tem of hu­mans.

“As a mea­sure to elim­i­nate the Ne­glected Trop­i­cal Dis­eases that in­clude Lym­phatic Fi­lar­i­a­sis (ele­phan­ti­a­sis), Schis­to­so­mi­a­sis (bil­harzi­a­sis) and Soil Trans­mit­ted Helminths (in­testi­nal worms), the Min­istry of Health and Child Care in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Min­istry of Pri­mary and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion with tech­ni­cal and fi­nan­cial sup­port from WHO, THE END FUND, UNICEF and WVI will un­der­take a mass treat­ment cam­paign.

“It is tar­geted at all chil­dren and adults start­ing from two year olds in­clud­ing all adults for lym­phatic fi­lar­i­a­sis, one to 15 years for in­testi­nal worms and five to 15 years for bil­harzia in all the tar­geted en­demic dis­tricts,” said Dr Manangazira.

She said through a 2014 na­tional sur­vey, ac­tive in­fec­tion or preva­lence of Lym­phatic Fi­lar­i­a­sis was iden­ti­fied in 39 dis­tricts in Zim­babwe.

“Schis­to­so­mi­a­sis or bil­harzi­a­sis is a wide­spread dis­ease present in 56 dis­tricts caused by worms whose eggs cause rec­tal and uri­nal bleed­ing lead­ing to loss of blood and ill health,” said Dr Manangazira.

The Min­istry of Health has also in­di­cated that the sur­vey showed in­testi­nal worms are more preva­lent in 47 dis­tricts of the coun­try.

“In­testi­nal worms which in­clude hook­worms, round worms and whip­worms are chronic in­fes­ta­tions which con­trib­ute to the cause of poverty through im­pair­ing cog­ni­tive per­for­mance and re­duc­ing the work ca­pac­ity of both chil­dren and adults. The dis­ease is found in 47 dis­tricts of the coun­try.

“The in­di­cated dis­eases may present no symp­toms, hence the tar­geted groups with or with­out symp­toms in af­fected dis­tricts should come for treat­ment, and avoid the long term con­se­quences of car­ry­ing the par­a­sites within their body,” said Dr Manangazira.

The Min­istry of Health is urg­ing the tar­geted com­mu­ni­ties to present them­selves at near­est schools, health fa­cil­i­ties and des­ig­nated out­reach points for free treat­ment.

Par­ents and school au­thor­i­ties are urged to en­sure that chil­dren tak­ing medicines take a meal be­fore­hand to min­imise oc­cur­rence of dis­com­fort if taken on an empty stom­ach.

A na­tional launch will be held in Masvingo on Wed­nes­day and the pro­gramme will be con­cluded in Binga next month.

The min­istry and its part­ners, said Dr Manangazira, have been un­der­tak­ing a mass drug ad­min­is­tra­tion cam­paign tar­geted at chil­dren aged one year and above in­clud­ing adults.

“The vac­ci­na­tion pro­grammes are be­ing done at three in­ter­vals, as from the 25th to the 30 of July 2016, 12th to 17th Septem­ber 2016 and 27th Septem­ber to 1st Oc­to­ber 2016.

“These are also be­ing run in schools, clin­ics and hos­pi­tals with peo­ple be­ing en­cour­aged to go for vac­ci­na­tion,” she said. — @win­nie_­masara

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