The Union Health Ministry aims to reach out to more than 24 crore children and adolescents across the country in the eighth round of the National Deworming Day (NDD) programme which was launched on Friday.
The success of the NDD programme has increased with each round with 22.69 crore children and adolescents being administered the deworming tablet to reduce the prevalence of parasitic intestinal worms, also known as Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH), in India so it is no longer a public health problem, the ministry said in a statement.
The NDD is observed bi-annually on February 10 and August 10 in all states and Union Territories followed by mop-up activities. This year, the programme is being conducted from February 8 and the mop-up day being February 14.
"Launched in 2015 through a single fixed day approach, the NDD programme, in this round, targets to reach 24.44 crore children and adolescents, aged 1-19 years, across 30 states and UTs," the statement said.
According to the World Health Organisation, 64 per cent of the Indian population, less than 14 years, are at the risk of STH infections.
The programme is implemented in collaboration with the ministries of Women and Child Development and Human Resource Development. The anganwadi workers and teachers administer the deworming medicine to children and adolescents at the anganwadi centres and schools.
ASHA workers support the efforts through community mobilisation and sensitisation of communities about the ill-effects of worm infestations, the statement said.
The NDD is a cost-effective programme that continues to reach crores of children and adolescents with deworming benefits through a safe medicine Albendazole, it said.
Deworming has shown to reduce absenteeism in schools, improve health, nutritional and learning outcomes for children, it added.
The NDD falls under the purview of the Extended Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, and is also committed to improving the nutritional uptake in all children and adolescents and has immensely contributed to the cause of Anemia Mukt Bharat and Poshan Abhiyaan, under the National Nutrition Strategy, formulated by the Niti Aayog in December 2017 with a vision towards anemia and malnutrition reduction by 2022, the statement said.
In line with the guidance from the Ministry of Health, comprehensive adverse vent protocols have been put in place, it said.
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