‘War vs worms’ relaunched in GuimarasINQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines – In a collaborative effort among the University of the Philippines-Manila, the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and Local Government Units, Johnson & Johnson (Philippines) Inc. once again takes the battle against neglected tropical diseases to the front-line through the re-launch of its “War on Worms” program in Guimaras last month.
Johnson & Johnson has a long history of advancing care for global health, and addressing some of the world’s most challenging and crippling health problems. Most specifically in rural poor and disadvantaged urban populations, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), can be the deadliest set of conditions being chronic, disabling, and permanently disfiguring.
In the Philippines, the most prevalent of the NTDs are soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections and among all other age groups, school-age children have the highest burden of STH infections directly contributing to under nutrition, permanent growth deficits, anemia and micronutrient deficiency, increased school absenteeism, as well as poor school performance.
Going beyond controlling intestinal worm infections, the STH elimination Initiative was launched by Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. on July 20, 2012, in the San Miguel Elementary School Ground located in the municipality of Jordan, Guimaras. The program aims to eliminate STH infections as a public health problem by focusing on school-based, school teacher-assisted mass drug administration (MDA) of mebendazole through multisectoral collaboration with local government units and the Department of Education, consistent with the Water, Sanitation, Hygiene Education, and Deworming (WASHED) Framework in support of the Integrated Helminth Control Program (IHCP).
“Part of our support consists of working with the UPM-NIH in providing Mebendazole, tablets used to treat worm infections, and with the LGUs of the communities involved in the project. After successful treatments and major outlines in the earlier implementation of the project, we’re looking forward to even better results which we hope to see with extension of treatment to other high-risk groups in the community”, states Sean O. Zantua, Human Resources and Contributions Director of Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc.
The contributions of Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. have allowed for the program’s sustainability and expansion to benefit other high risk groups such as high school students and pregnant women, and to advocate more effective STH control.
Initiated in March and launched in October 2007, the War on Worms initiative is the first regional effort of this type covering all provinces in the Western Visayas region, having already benefitted around 800,000 children to date.
To further strengthen the project, Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. will conduct advocacy campaigns involving local action teams, LGU officials, health personnel and staff as well as DOH and DepEd personnel. The Company will also promote improvements in sanitation and health education (such as ZOD-CLTS or “Zero Open Defecation through Community-Led Sanitation” and the WASHED framework or “Water, Sanitation, Hygiene Education and Deworming”).
“In order to ensure the sustainability of long term good community health, we must help transform mindset of the community members. We must help them understand that maintaining proper hygiene and ensuring the cleanliness of their environment comes foremost in securing the health and welfare of families,” states Zantua.
“We have a collective responsibility to contribute to a future of good health for people around the world. Collectively, we can be a formidable force and cause sustainable change the world by combining and deploying resources and knowledge to reduce the burden of neglected tropical disease and improve health nation-wide and globally”, Zantua adds.