The Department of Basic Education will spend about R18 million to deworm children in the nation’s schools starting next January.
Benny Sefolo owns a crèche in Springs east of Johannesburg where she cares for about 50 children between the ages of 6 months to 6 years old. She says she knows the problems that parasitic worm infections can cause in children including epilepsy, organ failure and nutrient deficiencies. She keeps in constant contact with her local clinic to ensure her children are regularly de-wormed.
“ Worms are very common, so we need to teach the children how to wash their hands after they use the toilet and before they eat,” said Sefolo, who adds that local clinic staff have also trained her teachers on how to reduce children’s risk of picking up worms, including regular hand washing and cooking meat thoroughly.
“Fortunately, I have qualified staff and we get the department of health to help us with this training,” she said. “My teachers also supervise the children to (make sure) they practice good hygiene at all times.”
High burden KZN, Eastern Cape to see twice yearly campaigns
The Department of Basic Education the roll out will target children between 6 and 13 years old. In provinces with high prevalences of pediatric worm infestations such as the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, children will receive deworming tablets twice annually, according to the departments Chief Director for Care and Support in Schools Faith Kumalo.
She added that the roll out had been delayed previously due to a lack of resources.[quote float=”right”]“Services and nurses are over stretched in the clinics so it is very hard for them to go out into the community”
“We have had a challenge in resources, hence the delay in rolling this out,” said Kumalo, who added that despite recent efforts to revitalise school health services that school nurses remain in short supply.”
“Services and nurses are over stretched in the clinics so it is very hard for them to go out into the community,” she told Health-e News. “We are also looking at educating our parents and teachers so that they too can administer the tablet with the help of a nurse.”
“If we are to wait for health workers to come to schools this will never happen,” she said.
While the roll out is currently planned for all provinces, Kumalo said that the department might opt for a phased roll out if resource limitations persist.
An edited version of this story was published in the 8 October edition of the Pretoria News.