This 2017, the Department of Health (DOH) is hoping to provide free deworming services to 23 million kids under the "Sabayang Gamutan Kontra Bulate" campaign (or the National School Deworming Month). Kinder to grade 12 students in public and private schools will receive medicine to eliminate intestinal worms.
“It's available in all health centers and schools, so they can use the remaining drugs even after the month, so it's a continuing campaign,” says DOH secretary Paulyn Ubial in a press conference.
It's not surprising why DOH holds this health initiative annually. In the Philippines, intestinal worm infection (or what we know as bulate sa tyan) has an average prevalence of 66 percent (and as high as 90 percent in rural areas). That isn't surprising since children spend a lot of their time playing in germ-laden places (infected soil and water can spread the infection easily).
Toddlers can easily be victims because they want to touch everything, and they put their hands in their mouths without thinking if they they are clean. Infected soil and dirt can also get under the fingernails so trim your child’s nails regularly. Undercooked food or produce that has not been washed properly can also carry worms.
Children with weak immune systems are easily suspectible to worm infection. Your best line of defense is to teach him good hygiene; getting him into the habit of proper handwashing already gives him protection.
Worms that make their way to the intestine include the roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm (they are part of a group of parasites called helminths, according to World Health Organization). The symptoms your child may experience actually depend on the type of parasite he carries. These are the most common signs though:
Loss of appetite
Weakness or panghihina
One of the most troubling effects of intestinal worms is the parasites take away the vitamins and minerals from your child's body. It can lead to a significant impact on his growth and physical development, which is why most people associate bulate sa tiyan with kids who are on the thin side. Worms can also cause intestinal bleeding, urinary tract bleeding, and anemia.
When your child reaches 2 years old, it is recommended that you take your baby to his doctor to check for worms and/or get a deworming treatment. The doctor will perform simple tests (using a cotton swab test, a stool exam or sticking tape to your child’s bottom and sending it to the lab) to check for infection and prescribe you medication. The DOH’s medication of choice is albendazole, which is also recommended by WHO. DOH advises parents and guardians to make sure children take the medication after a meal to avoid stomach pain. Ultrasounds are usually only conducted in severe cases.
On a last note, someone with worms can easily pass the infection to your child if he or she does not practice proper hygiene. So make sure you (and your yaya) wash your hands, too.
If you suspect your child may have worms, consult your pediatrician.