According to the World Health Organization or WHO, over 1.5 billion people in the world are infected with intestinal worms transmitted through contaminated soil. These worms are called soil-transmitted helminths or STH.
The WHO said STH infections are among the most common diseases worldwide that affect the poorest and most deprived communities, where infected children are nutritionally and physically impaired.
This infection is controlled by periodical deworming to eliminate the worms, health education to prevent re-infection, and improved sanitation to reduce soil contamination with infective eggs.
In a bid to improve the immunity of pupils and protect them from chronic illnesses caused by worms, Nigeria's federal government, through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said it would deworm at least ten million pupils.
Umar Bindir, the National Social Investments Programme coordinator, disclosed this in Abuja yesterday at a five-day planning meeting and development of information, education and communication or IEC materials.
Represented by Safiya Sani, deputy director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the ministry, Bindir said the deworming exercise is needed to improve pupils' health. He said the exercise would be for pupils from primary one to primary six, particularly those in public schools.
"As we are feeding them (referring to Nigeria's school feeding programme), there is also the need for us to deworm them so that the food could work properly in their system in order to improve their health conditions," he said.
"We will be doing this regularly because some of the food items might have some chemical agents or germs in them. So if we deworm them, they will be healthier, while their brains will function better."
He further said that the main objective of the five-day interaction is to outline the modalities for the deworming exercise, which include sensitising the partners and ensuring their commitment.
"It will also develop and harmonise the IEC materials and reporting template for the nationwide exercise," he added.