ZIMBABWE has been commended for implementing the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) namely Schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminthiasis for children aged between five and 15.
By Patricia Mashiri in Victoria Falls
The MDA program started in 2012. Schistosomiasis is a chronic disease caused by parasites and can infect people during routine agricultural, domestic, occupational and recreational activities. Soil-transmitted helminth infections are caused by different species of parasitic worms which can be transmitted by eggs present in human faeces, which contaminate the soil in areas where sanitation is poor.
Speaking at the stakeholders meeting for the feedback on the results of impact assessment of six rounds (years) of MDA for SHC and STH, World Health Organizations/Expanded Special project for elimination of neglected tropical diseases (ESPEN)official Dr Pauline Mwizi said Zimbabwe has made great strides in fighting these two NTDs.
“Zimbabwe has managed to be consistent in the MDA programme and I urge all African countries to copy so as to have a continent free of SCH and STH through implementation of different strategies,” she said.
Health Ministry’s Director Of Epidemiology and Disease Control Dr Portia Manangazira highlighted that although they are few complications in achieving zero there was need to move towards universal health coverage and stressed out that water contact diseases should not put people at risk.
Minister ofState for Provincial Affairs Matebeleland North, Ritchard Moyo expressedgratitude over the partnership which was done between the ministries (Ministryof Health and Child Care and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education) infighting the two NTDs.
“The common thread among all has been the objective of eliminate Bilharzia and intestinal worms as public health challenges in the country. This workshop will now tell us how many children were reached annually as well as indicating the prevalence of the two NTDs that remains in the aftermath of the annual treatments. This now allows us to plan the most appropriate strategies for their elimination.
“The MOHCC and MPSE intends to continue to work very closely with stakeholders in water and sanitation provision and under the President’s guidance to improve the coverages of safe water, and sanitation to thresholds that keep these diseases at bay and thus unlock our nation’s potential for development by achieving high quality of health and life,” said Moyo.
Zimbabwe has been battling the two non-communicable diseases for the past six years and more than 6 million people have received treatment in different parts of the country through the use of Albendazole and Praziquantel. The programme has been embarked on as an annual based MDA following the 2010 survey whose results were used to outline the country’s districts into high, moderate and low risk areas for both NTDs. Statistics show that after the six year programme SCH declined from the prevalence of22.7% in 2010 with a prevalence reduction of 78.3% in 2018.