DOH-NCRO works towards a worm-free Metro Manila

From the Department of Health

The Department of Health – National Capital Regional Office (DOH-NCRO) warns residents against Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), more commonly known as intestinal worms which are transmitted through contact with contaminated soil.

“These intestinal worms impair the nutritional status of infected children causing diarrhea, loss of appetite, intestinal bleeding which sometimes caused death if not immediately treated,”’ Undersecretary Teodoro J. Herbosa stated during the Stakeholder’s Forum on Integrated Helminth Control Program held at the Citystate Tower Hotel, Manila.

“We need to protect our children against these intestinal worms by bringing them to the nearest health center so that they can be given free deworming tablets. These should be done every six months or twice a year for three consecutive years then once a year thereafter,” Herbosa emphasized.

DOH-NCRO will be conducting a mass deworming activity for the whole month of September, in all health centers, day care centers and in all schools in the region. A door-to-door deworming campaign in various communities will also be done.

According to Herbosa, soil-transmitted infections are one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) in the country and still present in areas where personal hygiene is poor and environmental sanitation practices are inadequate. “It remains a public health concern even in rural areas where children 1-12 years old are usually the victims. Their health & development is significantly affected causing decreased physical activity & poor performance in school.”

DOH identified three major causes of intestinal parasitism in the Philippines. These are ascariasis or roundworm infection, trichuriasis or whipworm infection, and hookworm infection.

Intestinal worms survive in the intestine. Their eggs can be passed through the feces of an infected person. These eggs are deposited on soil. Ascaris and hookworm eggs become infective as they mature in soil. A person can be infected with Ascaris when eggs are ingested through hands or fingers with contaminated dirt which will then be put in the mouth or by consuming vegetables and fruits that are not carefully cooked, washed or peeled. Hookworm eggs are not infective and they hatch in soil, releasing a larvae that mature into a form that can penetrate into the skin. Hookworm can be acquired through walking barefoot on contaminated soil.

According to the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, the vast majority of intestinal worm infections occurred in Asia. The objective of this year’s campaign is to reduce the prevalence of STH infection to 30% by 2016 among 1-5 year old children from 43.7% (2010); prevalence of STH among 6-12 year old children to less than 30% from 44.7% (2010); and risk to STH infection among special population groups to 10% from 36.9% (2010).

“With the support of the local government units, we can increase the coverage of deworming among the target population and eliminate STH infection not only among children but to adolescent females and pregnant women as well. Let us all work towards a Worm-free NCR!” Herbosa said.

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