Rajasthan goes for de-worming drive among kids

After Bihar and Delhi, Rajasthan, a State with high prevalence of anaemia, is getting ready for the launch of a massive de-worming drive among children of school-going age. In all, 1.6 crore children, 90,000 from government schools and 70,000 from anganwadis in 33 districts of the State, would be covered in the drive being initiated jointly by three government departments and the global agencies, Deworm the World and UNICEF.

“The preparations are final. During the past six months we have trained 1.5 lakh teachers and 70,000 anganwadi workers on the job of administering the de-worming tablets,” informed Ayan Chatterjee, Operations Manager for Deworm the World, India talking to The Hindu . October 15, the date scheduled for administering the oral medicine -- which is termed safe, cheap and effective -- coincides with Global Hand Washing Day.

In India the fight against soil transmitted helminthes (STHs) and schistosomes, afflicting 400 million of school children all over the world, was first launched in 2011 in Bihar, followed by Delhi. In Bihar, 17 million school children across 38 districts were treated in the campaign. Bihar had a very high rate of parasite worm infection with more than 50 per cent of afflicted.

Rajasthan is the fourth State in the country to launch the mass de-worming programme for treating children at risk of parasitic worm infections, which is expected to bring about a significant improvement in the education and nutritional levels of children in schools and anganwadis . The treatment is simple and safe – a single dose of the de-worming medicine, Albendazole – administered once or twice a year depending on prevalence estimates.

“The campaign is on mission mode. Five agencies, Rajasthan’s departments of Education, Health and Women and Child Development, besides Deworm the World and UNICEF are parties to the agreement. The de-worming day would be followed by a Mop Up Day, which is on October 18,” said Mr. Chatterjee.

The Mop Up Day was for children who missed out either because of their absence from school or were sick for administering the medicine, he observed. The medicine has to be administered after a meal and the time decided for its administration is after the mid-day meal in schools.