New Delhi: In one of the largest deworming programmes in India, an international NGO in collaboration with Bihar`s health department has reached out to 17 million school children between the age of 6-14 years.
"In a three-phased programme conducted in 38 districts of Bihar this year, we have managed to deworm 17 million children through an initiative where we sensitised the teachers on the need of deworming," said Yogita Kumar, technical consultant with international NGO Deworm the World (DTW).
The initiative was Bihar`s first ever state-wide school based deworming programme implemented from February through April this year. Children with worms are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and anemia resulting in sickness and impact on child`s cognitive growth.
The children were administered deworming tablets once or twice a year. Deworming has also resulted in reduction of school absenteeism.
"This was a combined effort of the health and education departments. Prevalence studies for worms were high in Bihar as sanitation and hygiene condition were not up to the mark," said Stalin Chakrabarty, operation coordinator with DTW.
Nearly 140,000 teachers across schools in Bihar were trained to deliver medication with support from 20,000 healthcare staff in the state. The programme involved both enrolled and non-enrolled children.
According to the NGO, Bihar is not the only state with high prevalence rate. Delhi also figures on top in the list of vulnerable states that need deworming for children.
"In Delhi, the prevalence was 16 percent, and it was especially high in primary schools and slums where the sanitation was not good," said Kumar.