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January 20, 2020

0.55m children to be dewormed on Jan 23

National

January 20, 2020

Islamabad: Under the second phase of a school-based deworming programme to be carried out in Islamabad on January 23, the local health department will target 547,000 children aged between five years and 14 years of age to protect them from intestinal parasitic worms.

The exercise will be executed in coordination with the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives, Ministry of National Health Services and Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training.

In the first phase of the programme executed last year, 200,320 children were given mebendazole, a medication for treating parasitic worm infestations, free of charge.

The World Health Organisation donated those tablets for the programme’s school-based deworming part on request, while procurement for the non-school-based deworming component was ensured by the health department using government funds.

The officials said intestinal parasitic worms could cause anaemia, malnutrition, impaired mental and physical development, besides threatening the children’s education and productivity.

They said a steering committee consisting of the representatives of the planning and development, national health services, professional education and training, religious affairs, and capital administration and development division ministries, and Federal Directorate of Education will handle the programme’s matters on coordination, implementation and monitoring, while three private organisations, including Interactive Research and Development, Indus Health Network and Evidence Action, would also be part of the exercise. As a survey done by these organisations in 2016 together with Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives and WHO, put the average incidence of STH infections among school-age children at over 20 per cent in ICT and at over 50 per cent in a very limited area, the deworming programme’s strategy is to regularly treat at least 75 per cent of the at-risk population in at-risk areas.

According to the Planning Commission officials, around 570,000 children in the 5-15 age bracket, who are at risk of STH infections, are to benefit from the mass deworming programme, no matter whether they study in government or private schools and seminaries, or are not enrolled in educational institutions.