A B I L H A R Z I A treatment campaign has been rolled out across the country following continuous cases of the disease especially among school going children.
Ministry of Health statistics indicate that bilharzia is still a public health problem in Malawi affecting 19 to 24 percent of school age children.
According to the ministry's spokesperson Henry Chimbali, despite other partners that have supported the campaign in form of drugs, money amounting to K34 million has also been allocated for the campaign countrywide which will run up to June 29 covering all the districts.
Recent mapping of the disease in some districts confirms that all the districts in Malawi are affected, with Blantyre City recording an overall 11.7 percent prevalence in the 20 randomly selected primary schools while Blantyre Rural and Chiradzulu were found with the highest prevalence ranging from 30.2 to 34.5 percent respectively.
"The problem of bilharzia is still there especially in school going children. It is therefore important that we continue to scale up our mass treatment programs.
"Bilharzia is treated with prazquentel and many times we follow the mass treatment approach where we provide the drugs to a larger population though we treat case by case when they come to the facilities," said Chimbali.
He explained that the mass treatment campaign has been ongoing for a long time saying in 2011 a total of 2.1 million representing 76 percent of the targeted 2.8 million school age children in 18 districts were de-wormed for bilharzia.
Chimbali said the 2012 mass treatment campaign for bilharzia will target school age children aged 6 to 17 years and that the drugs will be administered in both private and public primary and Secondary schools where over 4.6 million children are expected to receive the treatment.
The ministry is therefore encouraging parents and guardians to check if their children have received the drugs during the campaign and that the drugs provided are also used for deworming in children.