Past Project: Worm Prevention in School Children

The World Health Organisation estimates that 2 billion people worldwide are infected with soil-transmitted intestinal worms or water-borne worms. Most of those affected live in low-income countries such as Kenya and do not have access to clean water and functional sanitation systems. Worm infections, while not immediately life-threatening, can have a significant negative impact on a child's cognitive ability and general health. Children who have worms are more likely to become seriously ill and less likely to attend school on a regular basis. Worms also present a barrier to economic development as children who have worms are less likely to be productive as adults.

Development Pamoja places huge emphasis on primary health initiatives, believing prevention is better than cure. We do numerous outreaches in the Mogotio area, highlighting issues such as the importance of hand-washing, using tissues to blow your nose, etc. These may all seem basic concepts to people in the developed world but are still major challenges in the developing world.

One of our biggest primary health initiatives is deworming primary school children. It is advised that children should take deworming tablets every 3 months to prevent them from contracting worms. Tablets to prevent worms in children are relatively inexpensive, however they are not readily available.

Development Pamoja facilitates the mass de-worming of children in four villages in the Mogotio district; Sarambei, Athinai, Lomolo and Mijani Mingi. When dispensing deworming tablets we also dispense Vitamin A tablets. Vitamin A deficiency is another problem common in the developing world that is rarely seen in the developed world. Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 malnourished children in the developing world go blind each year due to a deficiency of vitamin A, approximately half of which die within a year of becoming blind. Providing Vitamin A capsules, which again, are very cheap, helps to prevent this problem arising in the Mogotio district.

When we do these outreaches, the nurse also carries with her vaccinations such as the TB vaccine to enable her to vaccinate children who have yet to be immunised. She also brings family planning aids that can be accessed by the parents, particularly young mothers living in the villages we visit.

We believe that if we can prevent children from suffering health issues such as worms and vitamin A deficiency it will create a more productive local economy. Ultimately it saves the parents seeking medical help for their children meaning parents are not spending their limited income on medical bills. It also, of course, prevents the suffering of children and means that they are not travelling for hours to seek medical assistance.