New Delhi: “The medicine sometimes causes mild side-effects, particularly if it taken on (an) empty stomach or if there are many worms inside a child’s gut. Symptoms like vomiting or nausea may occur in one or two per cent cases,” Health Minister JP Nadda told reporters at the launch of Malaria Elimination Framework a day after the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched the National Deworming Day at a function in Hyderabad.
At the time of inaugurating the scheme of deworming, Nadda had said, “We will make sure that we do everything that it takes to assure that no child suffers from a cause that can be prevented.”
The minister stated that India should be in the forefront of the war against neglected tropical diseases. He said that the ministry had first launched the National Deworming Day (NDD) in 2015, which was implemented in 11 States and Union Territories 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; 9.49 lakh frontline workers were trained for NDD 2015.
Nadda 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 the 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 the 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 with the Health Ministry to implement the National Deworming Day effectively for heightened impact. He said that the National Deworming Day would mobilize health personnel, State governments and other stakeholders to prioritize investment in control of Soil-Transmitted Helminth (STH) infections — one of the most common infections.
Nadda said, “It (NDD) aims to create mass awareness about the most effective and low-cost STH treatment — administering Albendazole tablets. Along with Albendazole administration, behaviour change practices in terms of cleanliness, hygiene, use of toilets, wearing shoes or chappals, washing hands etc is also important to reduce incidents of re-infection.”
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, 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.
The school-based mass deworming programme is safe, cost-effective and it 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 programme.
The minister also administered Albendazole tablet to a few school children and felicitated the school principal of the Telengana Social welfare Residential School (Girls) at Narsingi in the Ranga Reddy District, where the launch event took place.
Also present at the launch function were Dr Charlakola Laxma Reddy, the Telengana Minister of Health, Medical Education and Family Welfare; Dr P Mahendra Reddy, the Telengana Minister of Transport.