Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Joint effort gets worms on the run in schools

Joint effort gets worms on the run in schools

Joint effort gets worms on the run in schools

Six years ahead of schedule Cambodia has become the first country to reach the UN's

2010 goal of treating three-quarters of its school-age children for intestinal parasites.

Thousands of teachers in 6,500 schools gave anti-parasite pills to their students

in a campaign coordinated by the Cambodian Ministry of Health, Education and Sport,

supported by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF),

the Japanese Embassy in Cambodia and the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation.

More than 75 per cent of the nearly three million children of school age were treated,

whereas five years ago some 70 per cent of the children suffered from intestinal

worms and demonstrated the negative impact on short-term and long-term memory, reasoning

and reading comprehension, according to WHO.

"Cambodia's experience provides hard evidence that it is completely within the

realm of possibility to protect the vast majority of children against parasites.

Cambodia has done it and so can other countries," said Dr Lorenzo Savioli, WHO's

coordinator of parasitic diseases control.

WHO regional adviser Dr Kevin Palmer said: "Reaching the target this early wasn't

accidental.

"It demonstrates what can be achieved when the political will is there, together

with financial support from donors and partners."

The project began in December 2002, after a nationwide survey revealed that in some

provinces, up to 85 percent of school-age children were infected with worms.

According to Dr Robert Wakuluk, a researcher with the Cambodian Red Cross: "These

kids cannot grow, they cannot develop properly, they are stunted.

"Their school performance will be much lower because they can't concentrate.

"Sometimes they can't eat, they itch and they cannot sleep."

The most prevalent infections are soil-transmitted helminth (STH) a group of parasites

that live in the human intestine.

As the Post reported on April 23, they are picked up through the skin by walking

barefoot on ground where someone else has defecated.

Many children are shoeless and playground sanitation is often inadequate or even

non-existent.

The treatment is one Mebendazole de-worming tablet every six months and the improvements

were seen almost immediately, said WHO technical adviser Dr Reiko Tsuyuoka: "Right

now, they think slowly; they should definitely do better at school straight away."

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman