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India Set To Deworm Millions Of Children

Parasitic Worms

In many parts of the world parasitic diseases are found in high numbers. As countries develop, the risks fall, through improved diet, sanitation and education. However, this is a slow process. To help to get rid of disease in its population, the Indian government is to embark on a massive campaign of deworming children.

Parasitic worms (Helminth species) affect a child’s health by preventing the take up of nutrients from food. This leads to conditions like anemia, malnourishment and physical problems. Infections can also lead to mental impairment. The main method of infection is through poor sanitation and drinking unclean water.

Helminth are worm-like organisms that include nematodes, cestodes and trematodes. The common names for these are roundworms, tapeworms and flukes.

The campaign, Bioscience Technology reports, aims to target 270 million children across India. Deworming tablets will be issued via schools, by 900,000 teachers and healthcare workers, in a series of waves (which are necessary due to high school absence levels in some territories). The number of children either infected or at risk in India is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be in the region of 220 million (children aged one year to fourteen years old).

Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said in a statement:

‘The deworming initiative, along with measures to address hygiene and sanitation, would go a long way in improving the health of children as well as that of the country.’

With the deworming it is possible that a second dose will be required. This will be assessed once some representative medical data has been collated. The tablets are funded by the Indian government and the WHO.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.