NABALU: School-age children typically have the highest intensity of worm infection of any age group, and the situation is no different in Sabah.
Regular deworming contributes to good health and nutrition for children of school age, which in turn leads to increased enrolment and attendance, reduced class repetition, and increased educational attainment.
The most disadvantaged children – such as girls and the poor – often suffer most from ill health and malnutrition, and gain the most benefit from deworming.
In addition, the most cost-effective way to deliver deworming pills regularly to children is through schools because schools offer a readily available, extensive and sustained infrastructure with a skilled workforce that is in close contact with the community.
With support from the local health system, teachers can deliver the drugs safely. Teachers need only a few hours training to understand the rationale for deworming, and to learn how to give out the pills and keep a record of their distribution.
Studies in low-income countries of Asia confirm that children with intense worm infections perform poorly in learning ability tests, cognitive function and educational achievement.
Absenteeism is more frequent among infected than uninfected children: the heavier the intensity of infection, the greater the absenteeism, to the extent that some infected children attend school half as much as their uninfected peers.
Deworming can benefit children’s learning, substantially increase primary school attendance and significantly increase a child’s ability to learn in school.
With that in mind, Joniston Bangkuai, the first-term Kiulu Assemblyman has encouraged non-governmental organisations to come forward to hold medical camps especially in the rural villages in Sabah to care for the children.
Over the weekend, Bangkuai was present at a medical camp at Pekan Nabalu where he helped give deworming medicine to children in the area.
Some 400 people from surrounding villages came to get a medical examination and screening.
The camp was jointly organised by the Tuaran Hospital, the office of the Tuaran Member of Parliament and Kiulu Assemblyman and relevant departments and agencies under the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS).