KENYA – Amref Health Africa and the END Fund have launched a mass deworming program in Western Kenya in partnership with the Ministry of Health to combat the high levels of intestinal worms and bilharzia in the region.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, 140 out of 155 wards in the targeted counties of Vihiga, Kakamega, Trans Nzoia, and Bungoma have reported cases of intestinal worms, with at least 40 wards having over 40% cases of bilharzia.

Poor sanitation and hygiene practices have been identified as major contributing factors to the high rates of these diseases in the region.

To address this issue, the Ministry of Health and Amref has initiated behaviour change communication campaigns to educate schoolchildren and the community on the importance of good personal hygiene.

Over 300 street families, 250 sex workers, and prisoners are among the millions of Kenyans set to receive deworming drugs as part of the program.

According to Bungoma County Public Health Officer Wambusi Moses, these groups have often been neglected in the past, but the government is taking steps to ensure that everyone is included in the mass drug administration.

Pastor Joseph Mukolwe of Restoration of Hope Church, which works with street children, emphasized the need for these children to receive regular deworming due to the living conditions they face.

Community health volunteer Mildred Karani reported that 300 street children have already received deworming drugs, with 360 street children in Bungoma County being dewormed so far.

The program is expected to reach a total of 6 million Kenyans across the country, with almost 900,000 in Bungoma County alone. The activity will be finalized at Bungoma GK Prison in the coming days.

In April last year, Zambia reported an outbreak of schistosomiasis in Chirundu district in the southern part of the country.

Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo said the disease broke out at one of the local schools where pupils started complaining of passing blood urine, with 99 confirmed cases having been reported so far.

Masebo added that 80 pupils who were symptomatic and another 179 who were asymptomatic had received treatment, with the age group ranging from seven to 15.

Mass drug administration at the school commenced covering over 400 pupils and nine teachers.

According to Ministry of Health figures, schistosomiasis, also commonly referred to as bilharzia, affects more than 4 million school-aged children mostly in rural areas of Zambia due to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation facilities.

It’s an infection caused by parasitic flatworms that live in freshwater in subtropical and tropical regions. The infection attacks the intestines and urinary tract and can last for several days.

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook.