Prime Minister Raila Odinga has announced the launch of the second phase of the programme to deworm school children in primary schools throughout Kenya.
Mr Odinga announced the programme on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday.
The second phase of Kenya National School Based Deworming Programme targets the treatment of at least five million children every year for the next five years.
At a press conference, the PM said parasitic worms pose serious public health challenges to school children in developing countries.
He said that in Kenya, upto six million children are affected by worms. Such children often suffer from anemia, malnutrition and impaired mental and physical development. "Children infected with this chronic condition are often too sick or too tired to study in school, or even attend school at all," the PM said.
The PM said children persistently infected with worms are 13 per cent more likely to be illiterate than those who are not. "School based deworming is universally recognised as a safe, simple and cost effective solution. The benefits of school-based deworming are both immediate and long lasting," the PM said.
He said schools provide the most efficient avenue for reaching the highest number of childrent infected by worms "Primary schools have a much wider and deeper coverage than clinics. In Kenya, there are approximately 20,000 primary schools, four times more than clinics. There are of course far more teachers than health workers," the PM said.
Mr Odinga launched the first phase of the school based deworming programme at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009. Launching Phase Two, the PM said the first phase dewormed more than 3.6 million children in over 8,200 schools spread in 45 districts.
The programme also trained over 1,000 local government officials and more than 16,000 teachers on how to treat children. Mr Odinga said the Children's Investment Fund Foundation is providing $12.8 million for implementation and and another $1.36 million for monitoring and evaluation of the second phase of the deworming programme.