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PIA Press Release

DepEd to intensify deworming program in public schools

Pasig City (17 March) -- Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Jesli Lapus instructed DepEd regional directors and school health officials to intensify its deworming program in public schools throughout the country.

"We recognize the impact of health and nutrition on the learning ability of our students," Lapus said. "Aside from the potentially debilitating health hazards of intestinal worm infections on our children, it too prevents them from fully participating in school and from gaining the maximum benefits of education."

According to the 2004 National Soil-Transmitted Helminthiases (STH) Prevalence Survey, the most recent and extensive survey conducted to map out the extent of STH infestation in the country, at least 67% of school children are affected by STH, an intestinal worm infection. The survey was conducted by the Department of Health (DOH), with the support of DepEd, the University of the Philippines-College for Public Health (UP-CPH) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

STH is found to cause anemia, vitamin C deficiency and malnutrition, especially among school children. This state of ill-health have been found to affect the physical and mental capabilities of children to learn effectively.

"The welfare of our students is DepEd's number one concern," Lapus said. "As such, we continue to intensify our initiatives to enhance the learning environment in our schools."

In response to the growing concern over STH, the DepEd Health and Nutrition Center (DepEd-HNC), in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH) has intensified the conduct of the deworming program for pre-elementary and elementary students in all public schools nationwide. The deworming program, which started in January of this year, will be done every January and July of each school year until 2010.

Through the program, the department expects to reduce that the prevalence of STH among school children to levels below 30%.

Aside from the implementation of the program, the education chief also emphasized the importance of educating teachers and students about the value of proper personal hygiene, food preparation and other environmental and sanitation measures to reduce STH problems.

"More than just providing treatment for STH, we want to ensure that our teachers and students are well-informed so we can prevent worm infestation nationwide," Lapus added. (DepEd) [top]

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