J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched the National Deworming Day at a function in Hyderabad. Speaking on the occasion he said, “We will make sure that we do everything that it takes to assure that no child suffers of a cause that can be prevented”.
The Union Health Minister stated that India shall be in the forefront of the war against Neglected Tropical Diseases. He informed that the Ministry had first launched National Deworming Day (NDD) in 2015 which was implemented in 11 States/UTs across all Government and Government-aided schools and Anganwadi centres targeting children aged 1 to 19 years. The deworming initiative was implemented in 277 districts and 9.49 lakh frontline workers were trained for NDD 2015. The Minister further added that against a target of 10.31 crore children between ages of 1 to 19 years, a total of 8.98 crore children received deworming tablet (Albendazole) through 4.70 lakh schools and 3.67 lakh Anganwadi centres with an unprecedented coverage of 85%. The Minister said, “India is now launching National Deworming Day 2016 to cover the whole country, aiming towards a massive target of 27 crore children in 536 districts of the country”.
Nadda also said that apart from the Health Ministry, Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministries of Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation are collaborating to implement the National Deworming Day effectively for heightened impact.
India has the highest burden of parasitic worms in the world. Parasitic worms in children interfere with nutrient uptake, and can contribute to anaemia, malnourishment, and impaired mental and physical development. According to the 2012 report ‘Children in India’, published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, 48% of children under the age of 5 years are stunted and 19.8% are wasted, indicating that half of the country’s children are malnourished.
School-based mass deworming program is safe, cost-effective, and can reach millions 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.
At the state and local level, community mobilisation and outreach efforts are underway to engage community-based health workers, like ASHAs, Gram Sabhas and others, to spread awareness and encourage participation in the program.