The Department of Health (DOH) continues its nationwide drive to eliminate intestinal parasitism in children. The Department in partnership with schools and local government units (LGUs) are distributing anti-helminthic drugs during the National Deworming Month (NDM), a twice a year campaign held during the months of January and July. The NDM is done by synchronizing the schedules of Mass Drug Administration for Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) in the schools and the community.
NDM is being done because STH is a public health problem that has detrimental impact on children’s growth and development. STH can cause anemia, malnutrition, weakness, impaired physical and cognitive development resulting to poor growth and school performance in children.
The two components of NDM are National School-Deworming Month (NSDM) and Community Based Deworming Month (CBDM). The NSDM is a massive and simultaneous school-based effort to deworm 17,813,379 school-aged children ages 5-18 y/o enrolled in public schools this July 2017, while the CBDM is deworming of 10,572,404 pre-school children ages 1-4 y/o and 15,471,889 school-aged children not enrolled in public schools in various health centers and rural health units under the Local Government all over the country.
The magnitude of the problem of STH showed that 6 out of 10 pre-school children ages 1-5 years old (baseline prevalence of 66%) (2004, DOH-UP-UNICEF) and 5 out of 10 children (54%) aged 6-14 years old (2003, UP-CPH) were affected with STH. Recent data also showed that the overall prevalence of STH among school-age children is 28.4% with 13 Regions still having prevalence of more than 20% (DOH-RITM National Parasite Survey, 2013-2015).
The World Health Organization (WHO) set the target that at least 75% deworming coverage should be attained but the Department of Health has a higher target which is 85%.
The accomplishment of deworming campaign last year has been tremendous and remarkable. In July 2016, out of 19,250,273 enrolled public school-age children (5-18 y/o), 15,853,687 or 82.4 % have been dewormed. And out of the 10,599,699 pre-school age children (1-4 y/o), a total of 7,875,599 or 74.3% have been dewormed.
January of this year, the deworming coverage among enrolled public school-age children was 84.5% (out of 20,194,252 children, 17,060,163 have been dewormed, while among pre-school age children, the deworming coverage was 74.6% (out of 10,612,738 there were 7,919,273 children were given deworming drugs).
“The DOH together with its partners continues the initiative of conducting the National Deworming Month to achieve our goal in reducing the prevalence of Soil Transmitted Helminths in the country to less than 20% by 2022 to prevent its detrimental impact on children’s health and education if not properly addressed or treated.” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial stated.
Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc., through the WHO, has donated 46,000,000 tablets of Mebendazole which will be used to deworm all five (5) to fourteen (14) year old school-aged children under the National Deworming program of the DOH.
“It is our commitment to foster a healthy community that will address public health challenges like the soil transmitted helminthiasis, with a goal to improve health and nutrition of school-aged children in the country,” said Mr. Jeffrey Go, Managing Director, J&J Philippines.
Activities during the NDM are awareness and advocacy building on deworming and training of regional and provincial healthcare workers. The training included the management and reporting of adverse events and the strengthening of DOH advocacies to promote Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH) and Nutrition strategies to complement the deworming campaign.
Due to the the increase in the age group of children to be dewormed (from 1-12 y/o to 1-18 y/o), the DOH have also increased its budget in support of the Soil Transmitted Helminth Control Program. As compared to 2016, there was an increase in budget by 47 % this 2017 (from 2016 budget of P59, 816,320 to 2017 budget of P106, 350,350) with 82 million pesos allotted for procurement of deworming drugs.
Furthermore, the WHO is providing additional 42 million tablets of deworming drugs to be used by the Philippines for this annual campaign.
”We ask for the support of the parents and guardians to support this great endeavor. The success of this DOH campaign relies profoundly with the support and actions of the attached government agencies, non-government organizations, developmental partners and the local government units. With this unified effort, health for all will be achieved” Secretary Ubial concluded.