- Category: Hygiene Education
- Country: Togo
Hygiene Matters is a hygiene education and deworming program that we are implementing in West Africa, where the prevalence of intestinal worms can reach up to 50% of the school-aged population.
Soil-transmitted helminths (STH) are worms that spend part of their life-cycle in the soil. They can enter the body when the skin is in contact with dirt, or when eggs are ingested due to unwashed hands or food. They cause chronic malaise, fatigue, malnutrition, inability to concentrate, stunted growth, and in very severe cases intestinal blockages. STH’s, or intestinal worms, pose a serious threat to children’s well-being and particularly their access to education, as infection often causes under-performance and absenteeism. Thankfully, there is much that can cost-effectively be done to combat this problem.
Hygiene Matters is an elementary school-level curriculum designed to be used in public schools in francophone Africa. It was tested in the Central African Republic in 2012 and will now be piloted with 100,000 children in Togo, with the permission and collaboration of the Togolese Ministries of Education and Health. The program comes as a complement to current national efforts to reduce helminth infections throughout the country. HDI, UNICEF, and the WHO have been working in Togo for several years to develop a mass medication program. However, a reliable education component is still lacking. This means that while children will probably be dewormed, they don’t necessarily have the information they need to stay worm-free and will be reinfected within a few months. Hope Education’s program, developed to prevent infection and re-infection by teaching children how to stay worm-free BEFORE they receive deworming medication, has been welcomed by these local partners as a key element to eradicating intestinal worms.
The Togo Pilot
This year, our facilitators will train 2,000 primary school teachers, who will in turn teach 100,000 children. Each of these children will receive hygiene education as well as albendazole (deworming medication). A group of these children will also participate in pre and post surveys designed to assess the effectiveness of the hygiene curriculum in reducing reinfection. Based on the results of these surveys, Hope Education will work with the Togolese Ministry of Education to develop a national hygiene education program, adapted to meet local needs.
Long-term Efforts: Beyond the Pilot
Consider partnering with us in this pilot. By doing so, you are investing in 3 things. First, helping 100,000 children lead worm-free lives. Second, developing materials that are proven to be effective and will reach all 1.7 million school-aged children in Togo. Third, providing a basis for expansion of this effective program to other countries with similar needs.