Upama Tamla Rai, ECCA Counselor
Head lice infestation is a common problem in school children worldwide bearing both medical and social implications. Besides causing difficulty in concentration and sleep, head lice are known not to have been associated with serious health risks and are not considered health hazards. However, the presence of head lice among students is more concerning due to its social, emotional and academic consequences including social boycott, psychological distress and unnecessary absenteeism in school.
To address and solve this issue, the program “Beautiful Hair Weeks’’ has been introduced by ECCA in various parts of Nepal. The presence of head lice is prevailing both in rural and urban areas. One of the recent Beautiful Hair Weeks program was conducted in 14 schools of ward no. 12 and 13 of Rapti Municipality, Chitwan. The program focused both on school students and households. Out of 1,217 students who were surveyed,894 students (i.e. 73.5%) were detected with head lice.
“Through this program, we aim to positively change the perception and reaction of students, teachers and the community towards head lice”, shared Suresh Nagarkoti, an ECCA Counselor involved in the program.
The approach of the program was to first orient the parents and teachers on head lice, their life cycle and, most importantly, the impacts of head lice and the need to get rid of them. Secondly, the orientation also included details on the anti-head lice solution, its ingredients and its application process. A practical demonstration was conducted on making this solution by using salt, vinegar and glycerol.
“We never took head lice as a serious issue before this”, shared one of the parents. “But, after attending the orientation and hearing about the consequences our children have had to face in schools and communities, I now regard head lice removal as a vital issue, which can also ensure smooth attendance of our children in school.”
The orientation was followed by applying anti-head lice solution among the infected students above 3 years of age for 3 consecutive weeks (at an interval of 1 week). Before the application, parents’ consent was also obtained. The solution was not applied to those students having wound on their head.
“We are thankful to ECCA and all the supporters for taking the initiative in such a critical issue” the students responded at the end of the program.
Anti-head lice solution was provided also for 580 households for use among other family members and non-school going children, which benefitted 1,129 beneficiaries.
ECCA is thankful to Antenna Foundation, Switzerland for the technical knowledge and action medeor, Germany and BMZ, Germany for financially supporting the implementation of this initiative in Chitwan district.