The Federal Ministry of Health on Tuesday warned against diversion of drugs meant for deworming of school children to curtail the spread of schistosomiasis in the FCT.
The Director and Programme Manager, National Deworming Programme, FMoH, Dr. Obiageli Nebe, issued the warning during the FCT 2022 Annual School Deworming Exercise in Abuja.
Nebe said the drugs were for the treatment of schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms that live in freshwater.
She added that the disease was endemic in the FCT, with Gwagwalada Area Council having the highest burden.
The programme Manager, therefore, stressed the need for traditional, religious and School Based Management committees (SBMC) to encourage children to receive the drugs and monitor the dispensing against diversion.
“They have a huge role to play apart from mobilising and sensitising their respective communities. They equally have the role of monitoring to ensure the deworming tablets are given to the children that are being targeted.
“They should monitor and ensure that these drugs are brought to their various schools and communities, that we don’t lose any of these drugs to people that may like to sell them,” she said.
According to her, the ministry will be working with the police and judiciary to ensure any person caught selling the drugs or diverting them is arrested and prosecuted according to the law.
“There is a penalty and sanction for any leakage of these donated medicines. We will take it up by involving the police and the culprits will be arrested and taken to court,” she said.
She also tasked the stakeholders to ensure they monitor the national school feeding projects and ensure the vendors deliver quality and good food to the children.
On his part, Dr. Johnson Onyemah, Consultant on School Feeding, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development said over 54,000 schools nationwide were participating in the programme.
Onyemah added that over nine million school children between primary one to three were benefitting from the school feeding programme.
He said the school feeding programme is aimed at reducing malnutrition, encouraging school enrollment, and creating employment opportunities and diverse agricultural activities in local communities.
The Director, Public Health Department, Dr. Sadiq Abdrahman, said the meeting was to solicit support, collaboration, and active participation of stakeholders to ensure the success of the exercise.
Abdrahman, represented by Dr. Eunice Ogundipe, Head of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Unit in the department, therefore encouraged participants to ensure the drugs get to the target persons.
“We solicit stakeholders’ support, cooperation, collaboration, and active participation in ensuring the success of the forthcoming school deworming programme through timely and adequate dissemination of information to FCT residents,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr. Ibrahim Yusuf, Sarkin Yakin Adinni, and Chairman SBMC in the FCT stressed the need for collaboration with traditional leaders to ensure the success of the exercise.