School health programmes are the basis of the strategy defined by WHO to reduce morbidity due to soil-transmitted nematodes and schistosomes in school age populations in developing countries. However, low rates of school enrolment can be a major factor limiting their success.
In the present study enrolled children were informed by teachers on the date of the next deworming compaign and were invited to pass along this information to parents, siblings and friends of school-age.
On the day of the deworming campaign, teachers were instructed to administer anthelminthics to enrolled and not enrolled school-age children present at school. In the month following the treatment day, information about coverage was collected by questionnaire in 257 households in two regions of Unguja Island, Zanzibar. Over 89% of school age children resulted treated (98.9% of those enrolled plus 60% of those not enrolled). The additional cost of treating non-enrolled is limited to the cost of providing additional doses of anthelminthic drug in each school.
Non-enrolled school age children can easily, successfully and inexpensively included in school based deworming campaign. Managers of control programmes are invited to test this method adapting it in their particular and cultural environment.