NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 14 – The government was Tuesday set to kick off a deworming campaign targeting four million children aged 2-14 years in 14 counties.

The 14 counties are Narok, Nyamira, Kisii, Migori, Busia, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Lamu, Tana River, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale, and Taita Taveta.

The exercise, a joint initiative of both the Ministries of Education and Health, was set to take place  in over 19,000 primary schools and early childhood development centers for a three-day period lapsing on Thursday, September 16.

The government had reached 2.6 million children under the National School-Based Deworming Program (NSBD) during a campaign mounted in March 2021 across seven counties in Western Kenya.

Intestinal worms are a major public health problem in Kenya with at least six million children is at risk nationally.

“Worm infections, if left untreated, interfere with nutrient intake and can lead to anemia, malnourishment, and impaired mental and physical development,”  the education ministry said.

Rigorous research, mainly conducted in Kenya, has shown that receiving deworming treatment can improve children’s cognition, physical development, and school attendance.

A study conducted by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in 2012 and 2018 showed that the program had been highly effective in reducing worm infections, with the prevalence of Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) decreasing by 62 per cent among children sampled.

Basic Education Principal Secretary Julius Jwan  and Acting Health Director General Patrick Amoth were set to flag off the latest campaign targeting 14 counties.

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