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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Regular de-worming of school children can reduce absenteeism

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A most effective and much less expensive than the Mid Day Meal Programme has been launched in the country to retain and attract children in schools in India. Besides, this programme has least probability of corruption, theft and wastage of government money as reported for the Mid Day Meal  Programme. This effective programme is mass de-worming programme of school aged children. 
De-worm the World, a US based non-profit organization is supporting the mass d-worming drive for Bihar children. The program started on February 7th 2011 aiming to treat 21 million school-aged children in the state.

The programme has been planned to be conducted in three phases from February to April 2011. The programme will be launched in more than 67,000 schools falling in 38 districts of the state. It will comprise three phases. For implementation and monitoring o the programme about 140,000 teachers and 20,000 auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) and other health staff are to be trained.
Worms that live inside the human bodies as endoparasites can cause a number of health problems like impairment of physical and mental development, anemia, malnourishment etc.. The infection of worms in children occurs mostly in the age group of 6 to 14 years. Such children become sick and weaker gradually and leave study after sometime. Thus school-based de-worming programme is immediate step to check drop outs.

 Image 1 : Round worms
credit :tutorvista.com  

 Image 2 : Round worms( intestine filled with round worms)
Credit : bioraynaturaldetox.com

 Image 3b:Whip Worm 
crdit : marvistavet.com

It is reported that regular treatment of students can reduce school absenteeism by 25 percent. It accounts to a megre cost of less than Rs. 25 per child per month in a year.

An extensive survey in Delhi, the capital of India has revealed that a very large number of school children from slums of the capital city suffer from the infections of worms due to unhygienic conditions prevailing in these areas . Hence, a school- based de-worming programme has been planned to be carried out in Delhi also later this year. Here, the technical support is being drawn from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
In Bihar, studies conducted earlier have confirmed that there is a high prevalence of a number of soil transmitted helminthes like round worms, hook worms and whip worms among school children. This finding has compelled the authorities to initiate this mass de-worming programme.

Worldwide, over 400 million school aged children are estimated to have worm infections. The de-worming programme for school age children was first launched in Andhra Pradesh of India in the year 2009.
“Deworming is being talked about in the media. The problems associated with STH and Schistosomiasis do not grab headlines like other diseases, but the sicknesses they cause can be equally devastating. It is our hope that Deworming will be recognized more and more by the media as an excellent means to increase access to education and improve development. Media is a powerful tool to increase awareness about parasitic worms, their effects on people, and the simple and cost-effective means to combat and prevent the disease.” - Deworming in the News

 Indiaedunews writes -
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, besides giving children between six and 14 years access to free and compulsory education, also helps their health as voluntary groups often target schools for their programmes, experts said on Thursday. Deworm the World (DTW), a voluntary organization giving deworming medicine against intestinal parasites to children between 6 to 14 years, will soon be covering the capital's government schools and slums. "After a year-long successful work in seven districts of Andhra Pradesh since 2009, we will now target Bihar and Delhi where our prevalence studies have been going on for quite some time," DTW's executive director Lesley Drake told the sources on her visit to India. "We realized how effective health plans can be when they are pitched in with educational schemes. RTE is an important catalyst for our policy in India," added Drake. The NGO, in its massive action plan, stated that the programme in Bihar will be rolled out in over 67,000 schools of its 38 districts from February to April. "Deworming is often ignored in developing nations because it does not affect the mortality rate. The need is to realize its impact on the cognitive growth of the child, his education, mental and physical abilities," explained Drake. The deworming schemes will also rope in the state governments and additional technical support from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). "In Delhi, our studies across slums and schools are underway, and a school-based deworming programme will be launched in identified at-risk areas later this year," said Prerna Makkar, regional director of DTW's south Asia wing. "Adequate sanitation, hygienic living conditions, and safe drinking water are other key approaches to the deworming plan," added Makkar.

Key Words: School based mass de-worming programme, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, AIIMS, Mid Day Meal Programme.

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