GOVERNMENT yesterday launched a national programme to contain bilharzia and intestinal worms that have wreaked havoc countrywide. At least 31 000 Redcliff residents, among them 9 000 children, were recently de-wormed after being infected by parasites suspected to be tapeworms that thrive in filthy conditions.
Redcliff is home to over 36 000 people and had been under the management of MDC-T over the past five years as sanitary conditions deteriorated to alarming levels.
Speaking during the official launch of the programme at Tsungubvi Primary School in Mazowe yesterday, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr Paul Chimedza allayed fears that the newly launched Bilharzia and Intestinal vaccination had many side effects.
He said Albendazole and praziquantel drugs which are registered in Zimbabwe had proven to be safe over the years.
"The drug is listed on the essential list by the World Health Organisation and is the appropriate response to the pandemic. We are following the WHO guideline to vaccinate children," he said
Dr Chimedza said the drug was not licensed in the United Kingdom because there was no prevalence of the disease in that country.
Companies are made to pay licence fees to register drugs in the UK.
"In 2010 only 78 cases were reported the whole year in the UK with people from Africa on the priority list of those infected by the disease."
Dr Chimedza added that measures were being put in place to deal with side effects should there be any. Speaking at the same event the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Lazarus Dokora said this years' Mass Drug Administration launch had adequate medicines to cover the widespread public health concern affecting 57 of the country's 63 districts.
"The district with the highest burden for Bilharzia is Shamva with 62 percent and with some schools around Chindunduma having over 90 percent of children being infected with this disease. Here in Mazowe district we know that 40 percent of children have the disease," he said.
"The School is the centre of convergence and can therefore be a breeding ground for diseases as much as it is a centre for learning better ways to fight the very same diseases.
"In this regard let it be clear here that no child in this province or anywhere else who deserves to have the medicines should fail to do so because there are enough medicines available."
Minister Dokora urged all parents and leaders of religious sects to ensure that their children are vaccinated. The MDA programme which was launched yesterday will run until November 2.
The ministry received 5,5 million tablets of Albendazole enough to reach over 4,7 million children in 63 rural districts and two cities and 11,5 million praziquantel tablets for the mass drug administration (MDA) around the country.