Studies of elementary age children in Majuro show that public school students have a higher rate of intestinal parasites compared to private schools.
Data presented to Health Minister Kalani Kaneko and his top officials Thursday showed 11.2 percent of private school children in Majuro have intestinal parasites. The figure is the result of 232 specimens collected from all private schools in Majuro. A similar study was conducted last year in public schools which showed 22.8 percent of 400 students infected with intestinal parasites.
The research was conducted by medical officials with Taipei Medical University, Shuang-Ho Hospital, which has a partnership arrangement with the RMI Ministry of Health.
The problem of parasites is worse among students in schools that do not have sources of clean drinking water. Minister Kaneko told Nitijela Friday about the study, emphasizing the need for clean water at local schools. He noted that one issue is ensuring availability of sinks and water so students can wash their hands.
Prior to visiting local schools, team leader of the visiting Taiwan group Dr. Fan Chia-Kwung and his assistant Chiang Chia-Lien and counterparts from the Ministry of Health consulted with school principals and acquired parental consent. The team then provided sampling kits for students to take home and collect still sample.
The project targeted first to sixth graders.
All students who participated will be given individual reports, but students who tested positive were given notes to take home to their parents, which will allow the parents to seek treatment at Majuro hospital.
Most of the parasites are water-borne and schools with a clean environment, like Majuro Cooperative School, are least affected.
“The dirtier the environment the more parasites there are in the schools,” Dr. Fan explained. “Water quality is a major factor too,” he added.
Ministry of Health conducts two deworming outreach visits to schools a year. With the new report available, the number of outreach visits may increase.
Read more about this in the September 30, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.