Vital deworming campaign launched in schools in Azerbaijan

Published on 22 December 2006

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Health, with the support of the WFP and the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation (VRF), has launched the country’s 2006 de-worming campaign.

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Health, with the support of WFP and the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation (VRF), has launched the country’s 2006 de-worming campaign, aimed at improving the health and intellectual development of the country’s most impoverished children, many of them internally displaced as a result of the armed conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The needs of children are ignored at a great cost to the well being of society, and the needs of children in Azerbaijan and throughout the world are urgent

Mstislav Rostropovich

The campaign will treat 16,000 children from 6-11 years old for intestinal parasites or worms, a common disease among a high percentage of Azerbaijani children.

If not treated, the worm infection can cause a wide range of problems, including reduced growth rate, learning problems and illnesses such as malnutrition, dysentery and anaemia.

Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation

Fortunately, worms can be eradicated with only one 500 mg tablet of Mebendazol which has no side effects. The Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation provided 32,000 tablets for this year’s campaign.

VRF was founded in 1991 by renowned cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich, and his wife, Galina Vishnevskaya, an acclaimed soprano.

Child health care

The aim is to improve the health care of children in countries that made up the former Soviet Union.

“The needs of children are ignored at a great cost to the well being of society, and the needs of children in Azerbaijan and throughout the world are urgent,” stressed Rostropovich.

Currently, the Foundation is conducting a children’s vaccination programme in the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan,Georgia and Armenia.

Vaccination programme

Working together with Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Health, VRF launched a measles, mumps and rubella vaccination programme in 2003 for 1-6 year old children. The programme, which was made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Department of Agriculture of the United States to the VRF, has reached 250,000 children every year.

“Deworming children will not only improve their general health, but it will also enable them to study better at school,” said Lynne Miller, WFP’s Country Director in Azerbaijan.

The de-worming campaign was prompted by the results of a government-sponsored assessment carried out in 2005 which showed a prevalence of soil-transmitted helminths (Enterobiasis, Askariasis and Trichocephaliasis) among primary-school children. The results