New Delhi: In the upcoming National Deworming Day to be held in August, the centre is planning to include children who are not part of the school or anganwadi system.
The decision was taken in a planning and review meeting conducted by the ministry of health and family welfare on Tuesday with over 25 states and technical assistance partners of the programme, including Evidence Action, a non-profit organization that works to support governments in developing school-based deworming programmes in Kenya, India, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.
The National Deworming Day is a flagship programme, which started in 2015 to combat the public health risk of intestinal worms in boys and girls aged 1-19 years. The ministry now aims to expand the treatment coverage.
“It is crucial that we now give focused attention to reaching children who are not part of our school and anganwadi systems. This out-of-school population is the most marginalized and vulnerable population of our country," said Vandana Gurnani, joint secretary, ministry of health and family welfare.
“All states should look for new strategies and use new technology to ensure that this programme reaches all children. Additionally, all states should also leverage community mobilization opportunities for the aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog, under the extended purview of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan to increase coverage," she said.
Other key programme components were also discussed in the meeting such as deworming procurement of drugs and supply chain issues; training; community mobilization; and inclusion of private schools and out-of-school children to achieve optimal programme coverage.
“The National Health Mission has a commitment of reaching 90% of all children aged 1-19 years with deworming treatment as part of the programme," said S.K. Sikdar, deputy commissioner, family planning, child health and adolescent health.
The National Deworming Day programme is conducted on a fixed day in all schools and anganwadis across the country on 10 February with a biannual round on 10 August in select states based on worm prevalence data. India reached out to over 26.6 crore children in the February 2018 round making National Deworming Day the largest fixed-day anganwadi and school-based deworming programme in the world.
Preschool and school-based deworming programmes are globally recognized as a “development best buy". Deworming with the safe and beneficial Albendazole tablet is an effective solution to controlling worm infections. India has the highest burden of worm infections in the world, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating in 2014 that over 22 crore Indian children aged 1-14 years were at risk. Intestinal worm infections can act as a deterrent to children’s growth and development, and can adversely impact performance in school, and the livelihood potential later in life.