India brace up to achieve worm-free status
The Minister for Health & Family Welfare Shri J P Nadda launched the National Deworming initiative aimed to protect more than 24 crore children in the ages of 1-19 years from intestinal worms, on the eve of the National Deworming Day, at Jaipur. Also present at the function were Shri Rajendra Rathore, Health Minister, Rajasthan. They administered the deworming tablets to some school going children.
Speaking at the function, the Union Health Minister stated that after getting the ‘Polio-free’ status, India now wants to target intestinal parasitic worms among the children to achieve status of being ‘Worm-free’. Pointing out that this was a historical occasion in public health, the Union Minister stated that the deworming initiative was one of the largest programmes in the world undertaken to deworm children.
According to WHO estimates, nearly 24 crore children in the age group of 1-14 years are at risk of intestinal parasitic worm infestation. He informed that the Deworming Initiative of the Health Ministry aims to deworm all pre-school and school-age children (enrolled and non-enrolled) between the ages of 1-19 years.
In the first phase about 14 crore children across eleven States/UT of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Tripura will be covered; while nearly 10 crore will be targeted in the second phase. In the first phase staring from the National Deworming Day on 10th February 2015, Albendazole tablets will be given to all targeted children; half tablet to 1-2 years children and one full tablet for 2-19 years. The children who are left out will be covered by a mop-up round to be carried out till 14th February 2015, the Health Minister added.
The Union Health Minister urged participation of all MPs, MLAs, and local public representatives in addition to school teachers, ASHAs and Anganwadi workers for converging and supporting the Government in its mission to achieve Worm Free India.
He said that, "this initiative needs to be coupled with improved sanitation, hygiene, and availability of safe drinking water for reducing worm load. This needs active partnership and participation of the other ministries such as M/o Women and Child Development, M/O Human Resources Development, M/o Panchayati Raj and M/o Water and Sanitation. The deworming initiative would help us to achieve the aim of ‘Swachh Bharat’ as envisioned by the Prime Minister."
Further, the Minister pointed out that the health sector in the country faces several challenges in the context of the diverse geo-spatial, socio-cultural and sub-national disparities prevailing across various regions. Given these challenges, the Minister stressed on ensuring that quality services are provided to the patients at various hospitals and health centers.