Matabeleland North Province has recorded a 25 percent decline on the 6th mass drug administration outreach for neglected tropical diseases compared to the programme conducted last year.

Coverage in the six districts under this programme dropped from 80 percent recorded last year to 55 percent this year, a figure which is 20 percent below the World Health Organisation target of 75 percent.

The mass drug administration for neglected tropical diseases recorded the highest coverage of 78 percent in Bubi while Binga recorded the lowest coverage of 51 percent. 

The teams also faced resistance in Binga where 61 parents refused to have their children participate in the programme.

Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Nyasha Masuka said besides data collection challenges the teams also faced logistical challenges as transport and fuel were inadequate.

“There were also other programmes that were going on and people suddenly had to stop and focus on mass drug administration. There was also a problem of information education materials that were not in local languages so a lot of people did not understand what this was all about so there is always a problem when you want to give somebody who is not sick, medicine,” said Dr Masuka.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care now requires to repackage their education, information and communication programmes in local languages for rural communities to understand what mass drug administration is all about.

Mass drug administration for neglected tropical diseases is a programme which though done annually is heavily dependent on donor funding.