56,313 Healthier Kids: More Work to Do (Part 3)

In my last post of a three-part discussion on our de-worming program, I believe it critical to emphasize that, even with our tremendous results, more work is needed to fight these devastating diseases (helminthes and schistosomiasis).  With incidence rates below 1 percent for 50,000 pupils in Kilifi today, it would be easy to move on.  Some might argue, why not leave this behind and focus on Kilifi’s other serious problems now that this is solved?

Yet, the news from our in-depth report was not all positive and should give us pause.  A questionnaire administered to 496 pupils in classes 5 to 7 showed mix results on our educational progress.

The Good:  100 percent of children could (1) identify why worms and schistosome infections were harmful, (2) explain at least one way to avoid infection, and (3) provide at least one way to improve the health of their infected classmates.

The Not-so-Good:  Only 40 percent of the same children knew how one got infected with schistosomiasis.  Less than 20 percent knew the degree of how many other students were sick with parasites.  And, dismally, only 7.8 percent of the respondents knew all the ways of improving health for children infected with the diseases.

The answer to the question above is clear.  If we left our work now, the infection rates would most certainly return to pre-2008 levels in a matter of years.  More education is needed to eradicate these devastating diseases.  It is not just enough to supply a child with a pill once a year.  Education leads to better health and so it falls to us and others in the community to ensure that every child understands how to live healthier and avoid situations that put them in greater jeopardy of getting sick from water-borne diseases.

Kilifi Kids has funding to continue the program for the next three years and we have been strong advocates to other organizations and local government to get more involved in this fight.  We believe that this work has huge pay-offs for the community and will push forward.  We will also explore other avenues to combat the causes of infection (notably sanitation) and are always looking for help in this cause.  So, send an email, pick up the phone, and join us to make the next study produce just as impressive results as this last one.

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