LEGAZPI CITY --- Children suffering from intestinal parasitic worm infection in Bicol have reached alarming level, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday.
DOH data indicate that 6 out 10 children or 67 percent of children with ages ranging from 1 to 18 years were infected with intestinal worms, according to Francia Genorga, DOH Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis coordinator.
Genorga in an interview said Bicol had the highest level of Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH) infection cases with 67.4 percent compared to other regions in the whole country based on the 2013-2015 STH infection study.
Other regions with high prevalence of intestinal worms were: Regions 7 (55%), IV-B (40%),ARMM (37@), III (32%), 9 (27%), CARAGA (22%), NCR (21%).
The Cordillera Autonomous Region had the lowest prevalence rate at only 7 percent.
The DOH infection study coordinator said the acceptable standard based on World Health Organization(WHO) study is 30%, which means that prevalence in Bicol is way double above that.
Genorga said “the rising intestinal worm infection incidence is very alarming as this can affect children’s growth and health condition.”
She said that the 2003 prevalence study showed that 9 out of 10 children or 93 percent have intestinal worms. This situation, however, improved in 2015 bringing down the reported cases to 67 percent.
The study showed that Sorsogon province had the highest prevalence rate with 89 percent while Albay had the lowest with 44 percent, Masbate-77 percent, Catanduanes -63 percent, Camarines Norte- 57 percent, and Camarines Sur with 52 percent.
The high incidence of intestinal worm infection prompted the DOH to intensify a Household and School based Deworming drive covering 2.5 million children.
For this year’s campaign, DOH expects to deworm at least a 78 percent or 2 million children with ages 1 to 18 years old.
According to Genorga, STH has detrimental impact on children’s growth and development causing malnutrition, anemia, weakness and impaired physical and cognitive development.
When asked what would be the likely cause of the increasing prevalence rate of the worm infection, Genorga said one of the reasons was the deworming scare among parents, similar to that of the Dengvaxia scare.
Other factors include the perception that medication had side effects, including adverse reactions.