The government has set a target of deworming approximately 27 crore children across the country as part of this year's 'National Deworming Day' programme which would be launched from Telangana on Tuesday.
National Deworming Day is a nation-wide preschool (Anganwadi) and school-based deworming effort to deworm all children at risk of worm infection. .
Parasitic worms or soil-transmitted helminths (STH), are among the most common infections worldwide. More than 1.5 billion people or 24 per cent of the world's population suffer from worm infections globally, an official statement from the ministry said.
"Worms interfere with nutrient uptake in children and can lead to anaemia, malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development. Research has shown that worms also pose a serious threat to children's education and productivity later in life. Deworming reduces the risk of worm infections in children," it said.
Health Ministry's National Family Health Survey also indicates that almost seven in ten children, aged between 6 month and 5 years, are anaemic, with even higher rates of anaemia in rural areas.
As part of the programme, which would be followed by a mop-up drive on February 15, where the left-outs will be taken care of, 400 mg of albendazole tablets will be administered to children aged 1-19 years. Out of the targeted 27 crore children, 19 crores are studying in schools, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda said on Tuesday.
Research in West Africa has shown mass deworming programmes in schools reduced absenteeism by 25 per cent.
"Last year the National Deworming Day was launched in Rajasthan and reached more than 89.9 million children in 10 states and one UT. This year the target is 27 crore and the programme will be undertaken in all the states and UTs."
"If we are able to hit the target of 27 crore, India will be healthier and we will have a healthy young India. It's an ambitious programme and world's largest public health programme which we have undertaken. I am confident we will be successful in achieving the target with the co-operation of stakeholders," Nadda added.
He further said after focussed programme India was declared polio free. The ministry has chalked out special programmes to eliminate kala azar and leprosy, he said.