Hygiene Promotion and Deworming Week kicked off in Fergana valley
FERGANA, Uzbekistan, 15 November, 2011. – A Hygiene Promotion and Deworming Week was launched in the Fergana Valley, which includes Andijan, Ferghana and Namangan provinces. The week-long activity, designed by UNICEF, WHO, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Education, aimed at providing deworming medication to more than 900,000 children ages 6 to 11 in. Studies conducted earlier this year revealed that up to 75 percent of these children have worms.
During this week, children each received a tablet of mebendazole – one of the most effective deworming medicines. The second tablet of mebendazole will be given to them in six months to finish the treatment.
Worm infections are one of the major health problems confronting millions of school-age children around the world. Pre-school and school-age children tend to have the higher proportion of worm infections. Although intestinal worms can infect all members of a population, these specific groups are at greater risk of heavy infections than others and are more vulnerable to their harmful effects. These groups benefit most from treatment and preventive interventions.
Speaking at an official kick-off ceremony that took place in the small town of Vuadil, UNICEF Representative Jean-Michel Delmotte highlighted the importance of providing the deworming medicine and underlined that priority should be given to sustainable application of proper hygiene practices among children and their caregivers. Some of these practices are as simple and cost effective as hand washing with soap at critical times during the day (after using the bathroom and before eating food).
Behavior change communication materials such as fliers and posters for children and their caregivers were disseminated through schools and rural medical points. Public service announcements on television and radio were also created by UNICEF and aired in the provinces.
The launch ceremony included clown performances and other edutainment elements designed to show children the importance of proper hand washing in an entertaining yet educational manner.
Mr. Delmotte mentioned that UNICEF would very much like to see this comprehensive effort as a ‘Call to Action’ for promotion of clean water, health curriculum, and sanitation and hygiene practices in all schools and SVPs not only in the Fergana Valley but across Uzbekistan. He invited the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Education to strengthen their collaborative partnership further to see a long lasting and sustainable impact of joint effort so that all children, including the poor and the most vulnerable, are able to realise their right to good health and education.