Health ministry conducts national-wide deworming campaign

The National Deworming Day is a single fixed-day approach to treating intestinal worm infections in all children aged 1- 19 years and is held on 10 February and 10 August each year

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Gurgaon: In response to the country-wide public health threat of intestinal worm infections in children and related morbidity, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India has mandated all states and union territories to conduct the National Deworming Day on 10 February 2018.

The National Deworming Day is a single fixed-day approach to treating intestinal worm infections in all children aged 1- 19 years and is held on 10 February and 10 August each year. Having conducted five rounds of National Deworming Day since February 2015, the mass deworming program aims to reach all children at schools and anganwadis with the deworming treatment. Any child not dewormed on National Deworming Day due to absenteeism or sickness, will be dewormed on mop-up day, 15 February.

Anganwadi and school-based mass deworming program is safe, cost-effective, and can reach crores of children quickly. Deworming has been shown to reduce absenteeism in schools; improve health, nutritional, and learning outcomes; and increase the likelihood of higher-wage jobs later in life. Deworming with the safe and beneficial Albendazole tablet is an evidence-based, globally-accepted, and effective solution to controlling worm infections. National Deworming Day has, thus, been designed to reach all children, regardless of socio-economic background.

As directed by the MoHFW, in addition to including government and government-aided schools and anganwadis, all states will make special efforts to reach out-of-school children, who are most vulnerable to worm infections. Private schools across the country, since they have high enrolment of children, have also enthusiastically joined the program, so that children in these schools, too, get deworming treatment and contribute to overall reduction in worm prevalence in communities.

To prepare for National Deworming Day, teachers and anganwadi workers have been trained to administer the tablet to children, while ASHAs and other functionaries will generate awareness and mobilize children to be dewormed on the day. Other ministries and departments from Panchayati Raj, Youth affairs are also deploying their resources of panchayat members, youth volunteers and other community based groups to engage communities towards a worm free India.

Deworming may have very few side effects and some children, especially those with high worm infections, might experience nausea, mild abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fatigue. In line with the guidance from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, comprehensive adverse event protocols have been put in place. Apart from being dewormed, maintaining healthy and hygienic practices will help children and communities remain safe from worm infections. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare envisions an open-defecation-free India which holds the capacity to reduce the overall worm burden in a community. The efforts of Swach Bharat Abhiyan towards a clean India will further facilitate the progress and benefits of the National Deworming Day.

National Deworming Day is implemented with technical assistance from WHO, National Centre for Disease Control, and Evidence Action.