New Delhi: In order to combat the public health threat of intestinal worm infections in children aged 1-19, the Government of India is observed the third annual National Deworming Day on 10 February 2017. A mop-up day will be held on 15 February, to deworm any child who could not be dewormed on National Deworming Day.
Mr C K Mishra, Secretary (Health), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said, “Currently the largest single day, public health program in the world, the National Deworming Day this year is set to reach approximately 34 crore children in 34 states and union territories in government and government-aided schools, anganwadis, and private schools.”
Preschool and school-based deworming programs are globally recognized as a “development best buy”. Deworming with the safe and beneficial Albendazole 400 mg tablet is an effective solution to controlling worm infections. India has the highest burden of worm infections in the world, with the WHO estimating in 2014 that over 22 crore Indian children aged 1-14 years are at risk. Intestinal worm infections can act as a deterrent to children’s growth and development, and can adversely impact performance in school, and livelihood potential later in life.
“The NDD is being implemented through the combined efforts of Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. All stakeholders are committed towards achievement of the National Deworming Day objectives, as reflected in the joint directives signed for the National Deworming Day program by the Secretaries of the MoHFW, MHRD and MWCD. The Health secretary further informed that Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Mr JP Nadda has also sent letters to the Chief Ministries of all States/UTs and all members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for their assistance in key tasks related to the Deworming efforts for health and well-being of children”, Mr Mishra stated.
In an effort to improve child health scenario of the country, National Deworming Day aims to reach every child, regardless of their socio-economic circumstance. Schools and anganwadis are ideal platforms for such a program, reaching children in their natural environment in a coordinated, cost-effective, and systematic way. In addition, through extensive awareness generation and community mobilization efforts at state, district, and community levels, children who are out of school, live in hard-to-reach areas, and are from vulnerable populations are also mobilized to be dewormed at anganwadis on National Deworming Day.
A coordinated effort is rolled out across the country with tablets, communication material, and reporting forms delivered to the very last school and anganwadi well in time. Officials and functionaries at all levels are trained, including teachers and anganwadi workers, who are pillars of the program. This results in lakhs of anganwadi workers and teachers, who are trusted by the community, administering the deworming tablet to crores of children on a single day across the country.
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. National Deworming Day is conducted with technical assistance from WHO, National Centre for Disease Control and Evidence Action.
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 will further facilitate the progress and benefits of the National Deworming Day.