VINOD CHANDRASHEKHAR DIXIT
February 10th is observed as the National Deworming Day thatis an initiative of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to make every child in the country worm free. This is one of the largest public health programs reaching large number of children during a short period.Deworming is done through plat- forms of schools and Anganwadi centres “to improve their overall health, nutritional status, access to education and quality of life” Its success and impact lie in convergence with the Swachh Bharat Mission. NDD also presents opportunities to further policy dialogue on health and nutrition as a way of supplementing efforts under POSHAN Abhiyan.
The first round of NDD was conducted in February 2015 and 8.9 crore children were administered the deworming tablet across 11 states/UTs by achieving 85% coverage. To make this deworming mission successful, antiparasitic medicines are given to children from govern- ment schools.According to the World Health Organisation, about 241 million children in India in the ages of 1-14 years are at a risk of parasitic intestinal worms. India accounts for approximately 28 per cent of the total number of children globally estimated to be at- risk of STH infections. Intestinal worm infection often makes its way through vegetables which are not properly washed, peeled and cooked; contaminated water; and out- door activities – children who play in soil and then put their hands in their mouths without washing them.
According to WHO, health is a state of complete men- tal, spiritual, physical, and social well being and not only the absence of disease. If a person is in a good physical state and free from any diseases but is under constant stress, greed, tension, anger, etc, then that person is not healthy. Children frequently ingest sufficient calories but nevertheless suffer from malnutrition, owing to a lack of vital vitamins and minerals required for normal physical and mental development in their diets. Evidence has shown detrimental impact of Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) infestation on physical growth-anaemia, undernu- trition and cognitive development as well as school atten- dance. Periodic deworming can reduce the transmission of STH infections. There are three main types of STH that infect people, roundworm, whipworm and hookworms .
These worms depend on the human body for their food and survival and while being there, they lay thousands of
eggs each day. In India, over 22 crore children under 14 years of age are at risk of STH infections.
Worm infection can also lead to diarrhoea; dysentery; loss of appetite; reduced nutritional intake and physical fitness; increased malabsorption – a condition that pre- vents absorption of nutrients through the small
intestine.People who defecate outdoors in the soil, spread these worm eggs everywhere. These eggs then contami- nate the soil and further spread the infection.If the worms remain untreated or undiagnosed for a long time, it can lead to long term effects on a child’s health and develop- ment. Heavy infections often make children too sick or too tired to concentrate at or even attend school. If untreat- ed or undiagnosed, worms can have a long term effect on a child’s health and development.
Intestinal worms are parasites that live in the human intestines and consume nutrients and vitamins that a child consumes.The worms lay thousands of eggs on a daily basis and chiefly consume nutrients meant for the human body.Worm infection can be caused due to various factors in children including lack of personal hygiene, uncooked and contaminated food, and excess sweets and junk food consumption. Let us maintain personal hygiene and avoid open defecation.Let us improve hygiene which includes washing hands particularly before eating and after using toilet; using sanitary latrines; wearing slippers/shoes; keeping the surroundings clean; ensuring nails are short and clean.