The Albay Provincial Health Office (PHO) launched a deworming program for children and teens. They urged parents with children and teenagers aged one to 19 years old to participate.
This was proactively done to safeguard the health and well-being of the younger population. Anthony Ludovice, the dedicated coordinator of the PHO Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) Program, passionately emphasised the significance of deworming. He also proudly announced their ambitious goal to deworm a total of 473,000 individuals. This initiative marks the beginning of their intensified deworming program. It commences this January and aligns with the country’s observation of National Deworming Month.
Active Distribution Efforts
In an insightful interview conducted on Tuesday, Ludovice sheds light on the meticulous efforts undertaken by the PHO to ensure the success of their deworming program. Apart from the deworming medicines procured from each local government unit, Ludovice enthusiastically discloses that the PHO has already initiated the distribution of an additional augmentation. This support comes from the national government through the Department of Health (DOH)-Bicol. They have provided 1,716 boxes of anti-parasitic medicine Albendazole, amounting to 171,600 tablets. Subsequently, these medicines are now actively distributed to the 18 rural health units strategically located throughout the province.
Target and Timeline
Ludovice expresses unwavering confidence in the PHO’s capacity to meet its ambitious target. They aim to complete deworming for the specified age group by April of the current year. Hence, the PHO’s strategic plan involves implementing community-based and school-based approaches to ensure comprehensive distribution of medicine.
In detailing the community-based distribution strategy, Ludovice articulates, “Our highly trained barangay health workers (BHW) proactively conduct house-to-house visits to provide valuable information about the critical importance of these medicines to a child’s growth and development.” This approach not only actively engages the community but also ensures that parents are well-informed about the significance of deworming for their children’s overall health and development.
Impact on Children’s Health and Development
Ludovice passionately highlights the indispensable nature of regular deworming in shielding children from soil-transmitted helminths (STH). He also emphasised the severity of potential impacts on their growth and development. STH, encompassing intestinal worms transmitted through contaminated soil, poses significant health risks. Therefore, if left untreated, STH infections can lead to anaemia, malnutrition, weakness, and impaired physical and cognitive development. Ultimately, this could result in poor growth and academic performance.
Importance of the Initiative
STH infections are prevalent in regions with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. These conditions amplify the vulnerability of children to these parasitic infestations. Ludovice’s advocacy for regular deworming extends beyond individual health benefits, contributing to broader public health initiatives by reducing the prevalence of these infections in communities. The World Health Organization (WHO) supports regular deworming programs as a cost-effective and impactful strategy to break the transmission cycle, prevent long-term health consequences, and enhance overall well-being in affected populations.
Additionally, the Albay PHO actively engages in educational initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of deworming. Ludovice mentions, “We conduct information campaigns in schools to ensure students understand the significance of these preventive measures, promoting a culture of health-consciousness and well-being.”
Call for Support
In a heartfelt appeal, the Albay PHO actively seeks the unwavering support of parents and guardians for this vital activity. Ludovice underscores the transformative impact that the active involvement of every parent or family member can have on achieving their ambitious deworming target. Therefore, the success of the deworming program unequivocally hinges on the active participation and cooperation of the community, ensuring the sustained health and well-being of the younger generation in Albay.