Sep 25, 2014
By: Elisa Baring, Program Director
Since I first started working in the neglected tropical disease (NTD) space in 2005, I have always cherished participating in deworming campaigns. Being able to see how simple NTD treatment is makes the idea of control, and even elimination, a goal we can all be proud to support! Lucky for me, not long ago I was able to take part in a school-based deworming campaign – taking place in a primary school a few hours drive from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The campaign was distributing mebendazole to treat school-age children for intestinal worms. Ethiopia is considered one of the ‘big three’ NTD-burden countries, with an estimated 40 million people at risk of intestinal worms, so it was gratifying to see deworming in action.
Ethiopia launched its National NTD Plan in June 2013 and control efforts have been ramping up ever since. The deworming campaign that I participated in was targeting a school population of over 2000 students. The bulk of the operation had been organized and overseen by an amazing NTD champion – Ato-Lopiso Erosie (known as Lopiso), a Public Health Officer in the Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Directorate of SNNPR’s Regional Health Bureau. With over 17 years experience in SNNPR, Lopiso has a strong understanding of the NTD burden that affects local communities and his input greatly contributed to the development of the regional NTD plan that details how control efforts – including treatment and prevention activities – will be established and maintained to reduce disease burden throughout SNNPR.
Lopiso worked with the National Schistosomiasis and Intestinal Worm Coordinator to conduct the training workshops, secured the drugs for treatment, and coordinated with the target school community. His enthusiasm for NTD control was infectious and I think everybody involved in the successful deworming day knew Lopiso was there and involved! Thank you Lopiso! Witnessing this day made me proud and fuels my optimism for the progress Ethiopia is making.
Thanks to our partners the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and the SNNPR Regional Ministry of Health.