“Health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of – a blessing that money cannot buy.” Izaak Walton.
How could we say that our young learners are endomed with blessings that money can’t buy when perennial health problems precariously situated them and put them at the-risk of absenteeism, dropping out and non-performance in school due to some intestinal worms? Stomach pain and gas that causes discomfort, severe diarrhea and dysentery, breath that smells bad, constant feelings of hunger, dark circles under the eyes, bad dreams or restless sleep at night, anemia, headaches, loss of weight, extremely tired and exhausted, fever, irritability, increased feelings of anxiety and nervousness. These are the serious symptoms of intestinal worms that rob the soundness of body, mind and spirit of our young children.
July is scheduled as Nutrition Month and Deworming Month where Mass Drug Administration for all learners from Kinder to Grade XII was launched in all public schools nationwide in cooperation with the DOH and DepEd. Deworming is also conducted in the month of January because it is done every six months to eliminate the public health threat of worms. Studies found a significant gain in child weight and school participation after deworming. Absenteeism was reduced by one-fifth in the treatment group. It was also found that deworming through schools provided the greatest opportunity to reach the entire at-risk population while minimizing costs through the use of existing government infrastructure.
According to studies, the possible causes of intestinal worms are dirty or unhygienically prepared food and contaminated water. Dirty fingernails may also spread the infestation, undercooked meats or flesh foods or foods contaminated by dogs. A sluggish digestive system that provides a perfect place for the worms to breed. Unhealthy eating habits and diet. Some worms may also enter the body through bare feet if the person walks on earth that is infected. Traveling also to places known to have parasites, poor hygiene or unsanitary living conditions. Having a weak immune system and exposure to livestock that have been affected with worms are also causes of infestation (The Deworm World Initiative).
Some suggestions to prevent intestinal worms include the trimming of nails. This prevents dirt from collecting under the nails and reduces the risk of contamination. Carefully wash all fruits and vegetables before eating. Cook food well, before eating as this kills any parasite and worm. Drink only filtered or boiled water especially during the rainy season. Maintain high level of personal hygiene. Washing the hands before eating, after using the toilet and when cooking. Wash hands after touching or playing with pets and also de-worm pets regularly as well. If one person in the family is diagnosed with intestinal worms, it is recommended that de-worming medications be prescribed for the rest of the family as well.
Further studies that those intestinal worms are found all over the world but are more prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical areas like the Philippines. The monsoons increase the chances of worm infestation. There are several types of stomach or intestinal worms. The most common types are roundworms, threadworms, pinworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and giardia. Intestinal worms enter the body through the skin, nose, and also through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. They then breed in the digestive tract and cause a number of unpleasant symptoms.
It really pays to know the symptoms, causes and preventions before it plagues our children. Doing something immediately to combat the negative effects of worms really frees the youngsters from struggling with the growing giant of possible illness. This government venture together with the World Health Organization (WHO) sounds apparently a blessing for all the young clientele, a healthy legacy that money can’t buy. It serves as a strong handrail in traversing wide oceans toward quality education. Indeed, worm-free children are making a difference in their daily educational bouts. To the parents and stakeholders, let us join hands to support Deworming Program for healthy learners moving forward to a better tomorrow.
VIMA A. ANGGOT