Health experts yesterday called for a stepped-up war against worms in Negros Occidental, especially in Calatrava and Murcia towns where the problem is endemic.
Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., executive director of the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health, yesterday said Soil Transmitted Helmiths and Schistosomiasis are co-endemic in more barangays in Calatrava town than originally known, while the prevalence of common worms in children in Murcia has not dropped.
Calatrava is endemic for Schistosomiasis, which does not normally occur in Western Visayas, but is common in Mindanao, said Belizario, who was one of the speakers at a forum on Neglected Tropical Disease Control in Negros Occidental at the Capitol, yesterday.
Schistosomiasis is alarming because one can die from it after having it for many years, he said.
Schistosomiasis is no longer in just two barangays of Calatrava as discovered in 2006, children are infected in at least six barangays now, he added.
Murcia is endemic for Soil Transmitted Helmiths or common worms, he said. In Murcia what is striking is that two years after the launch of the war on warms, it shows the same figures of the number of children with worms, which is a reflection of parents not allowing them to be treated, he said.
There is a lack of information that treatment of children in the public schools for common worms is free and good as it will make them healthier, prevent malnutrition and improve school performance, while treatment for Schistosomiasis is needed to save lives, Belizario said.
The root cause of infection with worms in children is open defecation where people do not use toilets, and the presence of small snails in ricefields that give off worms that can penetrate unbroken skin and can attack the liver, he said.
Animals who defecate anywhere also transmit worms which, he said, the Provincial Veterinarian’s Office will address.
The bottom line for the prevention of the spread of worms is sanitation, he said.
Murcia needs a good information campaign against common worms and to get its teachers to administer tablets against it in the classrooms, Belizario added.
“Let us not let the worms win the war over people,” he said.*CPG