As part of its mission to improve children's access to quality education in developing countries, representatives from Dubai Cares recently conducted a monitoring and evaluation visit to Angola to witness the progress of the organization's school-based de-worming program tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) which are creating obstacles to gains in education by impacting educational performance and school attendance.
Dubai Cares, in partnership with The END Fund, is working towards treating 1,261,555 million children infected with Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) and Schistosomiasis (SCH), which are debilitating parasitic infections affecting the world's poorest communities. The five-year program began in 2012 with Dubai Cares committing AED 3.67 million (USD1 million) to the treatment of these infections.
Parasitic infections, intestinal worms and other neglected tropical diseases (NTD) are widespread in poverty-stricken areas where access to clean water, sanitation and medical care is limited. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NTDs affect more than 1 billion people in 149 countries. NTDs are particularly dangerous when contracted by babies and children. Over 270 million preschool-age children and over 600 million school-age children live in areas where parasites causing Soil Transmitted Helminths are intensively transmitted, and are in need of treatment and preventive interventions. If left untreated, NTDs can cause chronic and life-threatening side effects including malnutrition, anemia, impaired cognitive development and stunted growth, which can negatively impact a child's ability to concentrate and learn.
Commenting on the visit, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: "Dubai Cares strongly believes that de-worming is fundamental in removing the barriers which prevent children from regularly attending school and learning. Ensuring children remain worm-free enables them to retain their learning potential and increases their chances of academic success. It also safeguards their physical development and allows them to remain active and engaged."
During the visit, the Dubai Cares team travelled to beneficiary schools in Huambo, Uige and Zaire provinces to witness first-hand the benefits of the program. They met with teachers and health workers responsible for administering the treatment and educating children on the dangers of NTDs. Activities included a theatrical play performed by children in a community school in Bié, Huambo, where the children brought to life the importance of prevention and awareness of parasitical infections.
Dubai Cares also met with officials from the Central and Provincial Departments of Health and Education in Angola including His Excellency Dr. Boavida Neto, Governor of Bié Province, to encourage further collaboration and support of de-worming and education programs in the region.
The work of Dubai Cares is vital in the country's fight against poverty and its mission to provide access to quality education for Angolan children. The program seeks to not only provide medical treatment for children living in some of the worst affected provinces, but also provide logistical support by mapping NTD-affected areas, allowing medical teams to concentrate on communities with the highest levels of infection.