92% children covered under deworming drive in three municipalities in Timor-Leste
21 March 2023
Dili: A deworming drive undertaken in three municipalities in Timor-Leste with high prevalence of Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH) has achieved 92% of its target. Of the 87,298 targeted children in 246 schools, as many as 79,209 received deworming medication -albendazole- under the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) drive held in October-November 2022 in Dili, Manufahi and Lautem.
This successful deworming campaign was organized under the Say No to 5S project, a collaborative effort between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). Funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the project has made a significant impact in reducing the prevalence of STH in the targeted areas. The project supports the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoEYS) to focus on improving the health and nutrition of Timorese children by tackling Starvation, Soil-transmitted Helminthiasis, Skin diseases, Smoking, and Sugary/Alcoholic Drinks.
The outcome of the deworming drive was shared at an evaluation workshop held in Dili on 17 March. “Achieving 92% target is commendable,” said Dr Arvind Mathur, WHO Representative to Timor-Leste. “The Say No to 5S project has two key outcomes. Firstly, school-aged children are free of priority diseases and major risk factors, including malnutrition or wasting. Secondly, schools are upgraded to provide a safe and healthy environment, as well as safe and nutritious school meals,” he added, emphasizing that the WHO has been closely working with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education to achieve these outcomes.
According to a 2001 World Health Assembly resolution, regular treatment of at least 75% of school-age children for the control of schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths in high transmission areas is a recommended strategy. Timor-Leste’s current achievement is therefore much higher.
Joaquim Martins, the national director of School Social Action of the MoEYS, lauded the collaborative efforts and underlined the need of a wider implementation of deworming drives.
Dr. Frederico Bosco Alves dos Santos, National Director of Public Health of MoH, said that the workshop was an important exercise to evaluate the progress made on the ground and derive useful lessons for the future deworming activities.