By Asmau Ahmad
The Nigeria’s federal government says it will deworm no fewer than ten million pupils, alongside the school feeding programme, for improved health.
National Coordinator, National Social Investments Programme (NSIP), Dr Umar Bindir, said this at a five-day “Planning Meeting and Development of Information Education Communication (IEC) Materials, on Monday in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development under its NSIP, to review and harmonise the integrated IEC materials on schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis with National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, among others.
Bindir, who was represented by Safiya Sani, Deputy Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the ministry, stressed the need to deworm the pupils so as to improve their health condition.
“As we are feeding them, there is also the need for us to deworm them so that the food could work properly in their system in order to improve their health conditions.
“We will be doing this regularly because some of the food items might have some chemical agents or germs in them. So, if we deworm them, they will be healthier, while their brains will function better,” he said.
Bindir said that the deworming exercise would be for pupils from Primary One to Primary Six, particularly those in public schools, adding that it was not for only the beneficiaries of the home-grown school feeding programme.
According to him, the national home-grown school feeding programme is one of the Federal Government’s National Social Investment Programme, aimed at providing one free rich nutrient meal every school day for pupils in primary one to primary three in public schools.
He said that in line with its multi-sectoral nature, NHGSFP had embedded adjunct school health and nutrition activities in its effort to maximise the benefits of the free school meals on the health of pupils.
“The main objective of this five-day interaction is to outline the modalities for the deworming exercise, which include: sensitising the partners and ensuring their commitment.
“It will also develop and harmonise the IEC materials and reporting template for the nationwide exercise,” he said.
Bindir, therefore, appealed for robust collaboration by all government and non-government stakeholders to achieve the objectives of the exercise and ensure its success.
In his remarks, Dr Nse Akpan, the National Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), Federal Ministry of Health, said that deworming a child was critical to his/her development.
She stressed that any child, who had deficiency in any essential vitamin or nutrient, would not do well academically.
“If a child is not well-dewormed, no matter how you feed that child, he/she will still surfer malnutrition,” Akpan said.