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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Ruthimitu Primary School's Story

Child Health Deworming Ruthimitu Primary School

Ruthimitu Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya, is overcrowded and surrounded by rubbish and the stench of human waste. The school cannot afford its electricity bills.

There is no concrete, so in the rainy season the school-grounds are full of slippery mud. The boy’s toilets sank into the mud fifteen months ago. There is no running water and no basin for the children to wash their hands. Each child is asked to bring a jerry can of water from home every day.

Deputy headmistress Ester purchased soap herself for cleaning. She earns about 3,250 Kenyan Shillings (US$40 or €29) a week.

The poor hygiene of the school stimulates the transmission of parasitic worms. Ester notices that worm infections reduce the concentration of some children. “It affects their performance and also sometimes their self-esteem.”

Twice a year, the school participates in a deworming program arranged by the Nairobi City Council.

“The nurses come and we give them a room,” Ester says, “One class after the other, the kids go and are checked. They look at their nails, eyes and head.” They provide medication and, later, send representatives back to check that the school’s children were treated.

School-based treatment is an effective way to address large infections among children. “I cannot see any other way to do it,” Ester says, “It has to be done through the school. If it was done in health centers, it would not be as effective as most of the parents refuse to visit them as they cannot afford it”.

Based on an interview by Joana Socias. Photographs by Joana Socias.