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Sightsavers Reports

“I will be happy if the medicine reduces the burden of worms”

Embessal, a teacher, standing in front of a blackboard in a classroom.

Embessal Moreira, head teacher at a school in Farim, northern Guinea-Bissau, has been trained how to treat and protect children against neglected tropical diseases such as intestinal worms.

Distributing medicine within the school is an extremely effective way of preventing the disease, because it ensures all children are reached. “This is the farming season,” explains Embessal. “If you go to the community, sometimes the children have gone to the cashew trees to pick – it’s difficult to get to all of them. So school is the best place. I was very happy when I was called to do the training, as we are dealing with children on a daily basis.”

With 872 students in Embessal’s school, two teachers have also been trained to cover the children. “I participated too because I’m the coordinator of the school,” he says. “I need to have the information, so at the end of this campaign I can prepare a report with all the information.”

Three teachers stand in front of a blackboard.
Ernesta, Embessal and Rosa are the teachers responsible for distributing medicine at the school in Farim, Guinea-Bissau.

“Health is so important for education”

Working with partners, Sightsavers distributes medication in communities and schools to prevent the spread of intestinal worms, which are common in areas that lack clean water.

As well as distributing medication, the teachers have been taught about the importance of good hygiene to stop the spread of infections. “In Africa, as a whole, we still have a problem with sanitation,” Embessal explains. “You see children playing with sand, then using the same hand to put food into their mouths. With this learning, we can help the community to change their behaviour.

“Now, if we hear someone in the community or in the school saying they have worms, I can recommend they go to the health facility for treatment. Now we know how to make sure the children receive their drugs, and we can refer children to the health facility for specialised treatment.

“The communities far away from the school fear the drugs – we realised that some of them didn’t want to take it because it tastes bitter, and they still have the culture of using traditional medicine. As they become familiar with the drugs, it will be even easier for us to give them the medicine.

“Health is so important for education: if you’re not healthy, you can’t attend school, so they work hand in hand.

“I am going to be very happy if I know this drug has reduced the disease.”

A man sitting working at a desk.

“Now we know how to make sure the children receive their drugs.”

A man sitting working at a desk.

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