A 2014 survey by the Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with Helen Keller International (HKI) has revealed that more than 86% of children in Udung Uko council of Akwa Ibom State are infested with intestinal worms.
?This revelation preceded the just concluded arrangement by HKI to launch mass drug administration for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) such as Elephantiasis and River Blindness from the state.
Programme Coordinator of NTDs for HKI, Mr. Joseph Kumbur, disclosed the shocking figure during a workshop for stakeholders and volunteers on mass drug administration in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Thursday, October 22, 2015.
Kumbur said that children within the ages of five to 14 were mostly affected by the disease in the area and other parts of the state.
He explained that though most of the local councils in the state have a prevalence rate of more than 20% that of Udung Uko remained pathetic due to poor sanitary condition of communities in the area.
Intestinal worms, according to him, were prevalent among people living in places with poor sanitation, lack of rural water supply, practice if eating without washing hands and walking bare foot.
The Coordinator added that HKI has entered into a partnership with Akwa Ibom State government to ensure the eradication of intestinal worms infestation and other three NTDs prevalent in the state including Elephantiasis and River Blindness.
“All the 31 local government areas in Akwa Ibom State have more than the 20 % prevalence in Intestinal worms and 25 local government areas has prevalences from 50% and above. The 86.6 per cent prevalence in Udung Uko underscores the level of problem in the state.
“The effects of Intestinal worms are numerous. One is that it keeps children out of school, the prolonged effects causes retarded growth and protruded abdomen. And the school age children are the most vulnerable groups. In Akwa Ibom most of them that are infested are five to 15 years old.
“Because most of this age group are found in primary school the strategy for intervention is basically through primary schools. So we are working in collaboration with Ministries of Education, Water Resources, and Environment to ensure effective mass drug administration of drugs in the state.”