Tanzania: Dar Scores High in Fighting Bilharzia, Guinea Worm

TANZANIA has made tremendous strides in eradicating Bilharzia and Guinea Worm Disease, thanks to ambitious school health programme currently undertaken by the government.

The diseases, according to health experts are associated with schoolchildren. Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Minister Ummy Mwalimu said since the programme for prevention and treatment of Bilharzia and Guinea Worm diseases started in schools countrywide in 2015, the rate of pupils suffering from the ailments have dropped from 84 to 30 per cent.

Ms Mwalimu added that her ministry launched a relentless fight against the diseases to ensure that the rate continually drop to one per cent among children of between five and 14 years, the ages at which pupils pursue primary education.

If the plan succeeds, the World Health Organisation may soon declare Tanzania free of the diseases.

She was speaking to reporters here to clarify on the widely circulated false information in social media that the government was administering drugs to school pupils who had not contracted any disease.

The minister described the medicines that was currently provided to primary schools in Dar es Salaam to eradicate cholera and worm diseases in the country as safe and confirmed by physicians and Tanzania Foods and Drugs Authority (TFDA).

Guinea worm disease which is scientifically called dracunculiasis is a parasitic worm infection that has been endemic in African countries.

Health experts say the eradication of the disease will contribute to the reduction of the heavy burden that the diseases inflict on the country.

Some parents have claimed that they were shocked to see their children being adminis-tered with the vaccines at schools without their knowledge, calling for the government intervention.

But, Ms Mwalimu was quick to point out that the exercise was just for prevention and cure of the diseases.

"We started this exercise in April and already we have concluded it in all regions and I want to assure the public that we never encountered queries from parents in all the regions except in Dar es Salaam," she said, adding that the exercise will be concluded in Dar es Salaam region.

She challenged schools to ensure that before the drugs are administered, pupils have eaten to avoid side effects.

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