It’s almost 7am in Mtomondoni Primary School, Kilifi County and the place is abuzz with activities. Students look excited and teachers can be seen co-ordinating a few activities to make sure everything runs smoothly. A few officers from the ministry of public health and sanitation are unpacking their medical supplies. It is a deworming day in the public primary school.
The Ministry of Education has come together with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation to come up with a project to deworm school going children. According to the deworm the world website cases of absenteeism are reported where 1 in 4 students aged 2-14 miss school because of the adverse effects caused by worms.
Joseph Kimwele the provincial director of Public Health and Sanitation,Coast Province explains why the two ministries came together for this venture, ’Worms mainly affect school going kids and they are under the ministry of education. We supply the drugs because that is one of our primary roles. Government policies also encourage ministries to come together for particular projects.’
Dr. Charles Mwandawiro, Assistant Director Kenya Medical Research Institute KEMRI says children are more vulnerable to catching worms because they often eat sand when playing. ‘’They are also more susceptible to get worm infections in case the schools they attend do not have toilets and latrines. 5 million children are infected by worms countrywide and at the coast the figures have reached 600,000.’’
“During a deworming day all pupils are given a dose of deworming pills. Teachers will administer the drugs to the pupils. We also advised parents to make sure the children have had some breakfast so that they do not experience side effects of the medicine. However the side effects are very minimal and include a mild stomachache,’’ adds Kimwele.
‘Teachers will administer the drugs since the schools they have to attend to are very many, hence the ministry of public health and sanitation officers will not be able to cover all schools if they do not delegate this duty to teachers. The health officers have trained the teachers on how to give the medicine to the pupils. The teacher student relationship is very good .Teachers are very good in demonstrating and it will help the children understand how to take the drugs easier. During the assembly I also demonstrated on how to take the pills,’ says the headmistress of Mtomondoni Primary School, Margaret Baya.
Anthony Kalenga, a standard 6 pupil from the school expressed excitement saying that the project would help reduce absenteeism in his school. He adds that the project would help to improve health standards amongst his fellow pupils.