NEW DELHI: : Crores of Indian children got deworming treatment today in a massive national campaign to prevent parasitic worms from infecting them and impairing their mental and physical development.
In a village on the outskirts of the Indian capital, hundreds of children washed their hands and lined up to chew the tablets given to them by their teachers and health workers before opening their bags for studies on Wednesday morning, the news agency Associated Press reported.
The campaign – the National Deworming Day – is targeting 27 crore children across the country, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Last year, 9 Crore children were given deworming medicines.
“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,” a Health Ministry statement said.
J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched the campaign at a function in Hyderabad, today. 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 Ministry had first launched National Deworming Day in 2015 which was implemented in 11 states and union territories in government and government-aided schools and Anganwadi centres targeting children between 1 and 19 years old covering nearly 9 crore children. “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,” Mr Nadda said.
The Health Ministry also roped in the ministries of Human Resource Development, Women and Child Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation for the are collaborating to implement the National Deworming Day effectively for heightened impact.
“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,” a ministry official said.