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KP health minister opens ‘Deworming Initiative of School-age Children’

October 25, 2019

KARACHI: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan inaugurated the first ever “Deworming Initiative of School-age Children in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa” on 23rd October 2019. The programme will deworm over 4.6 million children in 19 districts of KP through over 20,000 government and private schools on 31st October, 2019.

All children enrolled in classes 1-10 and out-of-school ages 5 - 14 will be encouraged to access treatment at a nearby school on Deworming Day.

Dr. Hisham Inamullah Khan quoted, “It is the mandate of Health Department KP to protect the Health of all citizens in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. “Since children are going to be key productive actors for KP in the future, we open-heartedly welcomed school-based deworming program which will not only improve the health of our children but will also increase their effectiveness and performance in school, thus benefitting society as a whole.”

Education Adviser KP Zia Ullah Bangash and Chairperson Standing Committee Health Dr. Sumera Shams also graced the event and urged parents and guardians to send their 5 to 14 year old children to the nearest government or private school on 31st October, 2019 during school timings for free and safe deworming medicine. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 1.5 billion people, or nearly 1 in 4 of the world’s population, are infected with intestinal worms, also known as soil-transmitted helminths, with over 835 million children in need of treatment. These infections result from poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, and tend to have the highest prevalence in children of school-going age.

Dr. Sumera Shams stated, “The consequences of chronic worm infections in children are both widespread and debilitating and pose a serious threat to children’s health, education, and productivity.”

She further emphasized upon the importance of combating malnutrition through deworming which she said was “partially responsible for high rates of child mortality and morbidity and contributes directly towards low human development indicators in Pakistan.”

Zia Ullah Bangash declared, “We take pride in the fact that this school-based approach to deworm school-age children (5-14 years old) will cover both enrolled and out-of-school children. This approach will ensure that no school-age child is left out of this program.” A national prevalence survey conducted to assess the status of intestinal worm infection in school-age children across Pakistan found that approximately 17 million school-age children across Pakistan, including 6.8 million children in KP, are in need of regular deworming. The 2 school-based deworming program in KP is being coordinated by a multi-sectoral steering committee led by Health Department KP, with representation from Elementary and Secondary Education Department, Local Government Department, Planning & Development Department and Private Schools Regulatory Authority. IRD Pakistan and Evidence Action are providing technical assistance in creating, implementing, and strengthening the deworming program in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Health Minister was requested to administer the deworming tablets to school-age children to mark the initiation of mass school-based deworming in KP. Deworming day is set to be conducted on 31st October, 2019 for all children enrolled in classes 1 – 10 in schools and out of school aged 5 to 14.