NSBDP Treats 52 Million Kenyan Learners In 9 Years
Kenya is commemorating ten years of deworming under the National School-Based Deworming Programme (NSBDP), which is co-led by the Ministries of Health and Education, with technical assistance from the global non-profit organization Evidence Action.
Teachers at schools provide free deworming treatment to children aged 2-14 years, regardless of enrollment status, under the Programme.
With the tenth year of deworming approaching in 2022, the NSBDP has completed nine rounds of school-based deworming treatment, reaching up to six million children annually across 27 counties.
Dr. Julius Jwan, Principal Secretary (PS), Early Learning and Basic Education, Ministry of Education, says ahead of the 10-year celebration activities for the National School-Based Deworming Programme.
“Research shows that if deworming is not done, there is up to 25 percent absenteeism by learners, something which greatly affects their overall performance.”
The Kenya Vision 2030 flagship program, the National School-Based Deworming Programme, has provided over 52 million treatments to school-aged children over a nine-year period.
Following a disrupted Covid year in 2020, the program resumed full-scale operations in 2021, deworming over 6.4 million children across 21 counties.
“In addition to us allocating funds for deworming, we are also going further to ensure that all the resources of the government that are directed towards procuring dewormers, go to local manufacturers,” said the Principal Secretary (PS) at the Ministry of Health, Susan Mochache.
This year, the NSBDP aims to deworm 5.7 million children across 17 counties and 112 sub-counties.
For the treatment, the Ministry of Health is purchasing a record 5.9 million Albendazole tablets. Since 2009, the program has treated over 6 million children in both public and private primary schools and Early Childhood Development Centers.
All children in targeted areas, regardless of enrollment status, are eligible for free treatment. The medicines are safe and effective, and the World Health Organization recommends them.
“Ensuring that no primary schooling child is lost because of worm infections that pose a serious threat to the health, education and productivity of children remains an urgent challenge that deworming can help solve,” enthused Chrispin Owaga, the Evidence Action, Country Director – Kenya.
Deworming has a far-reaching impact on children’s health and education. A groundbreaking study published in 2021 by a team of economists led by Edward Miguel and Nobel laureate Michael Kremer provides new evidence of the long-term benefits of school-based deworming.
The study, which followed a group of Kenyan students every five years for a period of 20 years, found that receiving two to three additional years of deworming increased their income by 13% and consumption by 14% decades after treatment.
The importance of deworming children cannot be overstated; deworming treatment results in significant weight gains and frees up more energy for child growth and development.
A Ugandan study, for example, discovered that deworming treatment increased child weight by 10% for children who received treatment twice a year and by 5% for children who received treatment once a year.
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School-based mass deworming has also been shown to be more cost-effective than alternative methods of increasing school attendance.
In Kenya, school-based mass deworming reduced absenteeism by 25% for those enrolled in treatment schools. Furthermore, untreated school-age and preschool children are affected by deworming.