This letter serves as a reaction to the article entitled “More school children suffer from intestinal worms report” which was published in The New Times issue N˚14152 on 25th January 2010.
The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and The Access Project, organized the 2009 annual health award on 21st January 2010.
Presentations from different programs including the Neglected tropical Disease (NTD) Control Program achievements and the way forward were made at the Ministry of Health’s Rwanda Health Communication Center to update ARCOSA members and other journalists.
The presentation included the result of the study carried out by The Ministry of Health, in partnership with Columbia University’s Access Project, on schistosomiasis and intestinal worms prevalence in school children in 2007-2008.
The report showed that 65.8% of school aged children were infected with one or more Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs). While the overall prevalence of schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia or “snail fever”, was 2.7% with the highest prevalence rate reaching 69.5%.
One of the strategies to reduce the morbidity and mortality resulting from these NTDs is large-scale drug distribution in schools (for enrolled children) and in the communities (for non-enrolled children).
Since August 2008, a national mass drug administration (deworming campaign) targeting school aged children was organized by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with its partners every six months, through integrated mother and child health week. The next one is scheduled for March 2010.
Many activities are organized in order to sensitize children and the community against these diseases of poverty, and 14 sentinel sites (12 primary schools and 2 villages) were established to monitor the impact of disease control interventions.
As a way forward, the presenter emphasized that sensitizing children through School Health Programs and community outreach program by Community Health Workers (CHWs), advocacy for proper sanitation and use of clean water as well as behavioral change will limit infections among children.
During that ceremony, many prices were given to the reporter of the year and the consistent reporting on NTDs. The awards were given to Irene Nambi of The New Times.
Reports of findings from various studies on NTDs (Neglected Tropical Diseases) in Rwanda are available from the Ministry of Health and Access Project.