Yenagoa — At least 42, 000 school children in Bayelsa State are to benefit from the mass de-worming programme organised by Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL).
The programme designed for children between the ages of six and 12, was organised in partnership with the Women Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) attracted beneficiaries from several schools in Yenagoa,the Bayelsa State capital.
Speaking during the commencement of the exercise at the Community Primary School, Biogbolo, the General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs (PGPA), Mr. Esimaje Brikinn, said the target was to deworm over 42,000 children.
Brikinn, who was represented by the Communications Coordinator, Mr. Kayode Adeboye, said the company embarked on the exercise because it had been established that worm infestation was a leading cause of ill health and mortality in children of school age, mostly in the tropics.
"The effects of worm infestation, especially on children of school age, have assumed such alarming dimensions that it requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders to fight the ailments.
"Available statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that more than 1.5 billion people, or 24 per cent of the world's population, is infected with soil-transmitted helminth (parasitic worms) infections worldwide. Infections are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical areas.
"Unfortunately, young children are particularly prone to these infections since over 270 million preschool-age children and over 600 million school-age children live in areas where these parasites are intensively transmitted, and are in need of treatment and preventive interventions.
"These parasitic infections can prevent children from achieving their full potential."
He added that Chevron was committed to supporting improvement in health delivery in Nigeria through investments in preventive health programmes, health and social infrastructure, sponsorship on manpower development in the health sector and provision of other health facilities.
"This exercise is one of the initiatives through which the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture seeks to uplift the health and development of Nigerians; especially the children. It is part of several health intervention programmes undertaken by the Joint venture as part of its contribution to the ongoing efforts at building a healthy nation. 42,000 doses have been procured for the campaign.
"We are proud of the tremendous successes recorded through our partnership with the Bayelsa State Government in past health programmes which, no doubt, were because of our collective commitment to improving healthcare delivery and by extension the quality of life of the people of Bayelsa State and the Niger Delta," he said.
Brikinn recalled that between 2012 and 2018, Chevron, in collaboration with PACT and the Bayelsa State Government, sponsored a US$5.3 million Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PROMOT) programme.
This, according to him, has helped reduce the HIV prevalence rate in the state where over 57,000 pregnant women had been tested.