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10 Million Cameroonians Suffer From Intestinal Worms 

By Edith Wirdze

The Ministry of Public Health has stated that more than 10 million Cameroonians suffer from intestinal worms.

Andre Mama Fouda (R) and Haman Adama at launching ceremony

According to the statistics, more than 10 million Cameroonians suffer from intestinal worms while 2 million suffer from bilharzias. The most affected are school-age children between the ages of 6-15, who constitute the most vulnerable group.

The statistics portray that these diseases are a threat to human health because a child who is ill of these diseases suffer from stunted growth, anaemia and weakness. The child would also have learning difficulties and would be more exposed to other infections. These damages cannot be underestimated, it states.

It is in this context that the Ministry of Public Health and that of Basic Education launched a national campaign for de-worming primary school children in Cameroon. The launching took place May 26 at the Etoudi Government Primary School Yaounde. The campaign aims at sensitising the public on the causes, prevention and consequences of the diseases.

According to the project, medicine would be distributed free of charge to children. Because intestinal worms exist in all the localities of the country, every child in the 10 Regions will receive a tablet of mebendazole or albendazole commonly called Vermox to de-worm intestinal worms. In the three Regions; Adamaoua, North and Far North where bilharzias affects more, every child will receive in addition to mebendazole, tablets of Praziquantel, whose quantity will be determined by the height of the child.

Welcoming participants, the Director of the School, Charles Bihina Ngono, expressed thanks to the ministries for the privilege given his school. He stressed on the importance of de-worming, which would better the health conditions of children, and expressed gratitude to stakeholders involved in the campaign.

On his part, the Mayor of the Yaounde I Council who doubles as the President of the Union of Councils and Cities in Cameroon, UCCC, Emile Andze Andze, explained the concern that councils have for the health of the population. He pointed out that it is the responsibility of the council to engage in projects which aims at improving the living conditions of its people.

He advised mayors to reinforce the campaign in order to improve on the situation.
The Minister of Basic Education, Haman Adama, maintained that children are vulnerable due to their behaviours that promote infection and their environment that make them to be easily affected. She appreciated the partnership accord between her ministry and that of Public Health as beneficial, for, according to her, it will reduce the burden of the diseases and enforce the fight against poverty.

Highlighting the importance of the campaign, the Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda, said the alarming statistics called for the launch of this war against the illnesses. He stressed that the damages of these diseases are so severe. It is in this perspective, he said, that the government is putting more efforts in combating the illnesses.

He said the success of the campaign requires appropriate education about the diseases. He lauded the efforts of partners such as the World Food Programme, World Health Organisation and UNICEF and made an appeal that much is still left to be done. He stated that children of between 6 and 15 years not going to school would receive their medicines from health centres across the country.

 Another important highlight of the ceremony was the signing of a partnership pact between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Basic Education and UCCC. The campaign would take place in all public and private schools in the country as well as health units for children who are not enrolled in school. Children should be de-wormed every six months.