Every year February 10 and August 10 are observed as the National Deworming Days (NDD). The days aim at eradicating intestinal worms also known as Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH), among children in the age group of 1-19 years.
- Children and adolescents are administered a single dose of a safe medicine Albendazole across government, government-aided schools, anganwadis, private schools, and other educational institutions.
- Deworming through Albendazole is an evidence-based, globally-accepted, effective solution used to control worm infections in all children.
- Started in 2015 by the Ministry Of Health And Family Welfare, the NDD is the largest public health program implemented on a single day reaching crores of children and adolescents through two NDD rounds every year.
- NDD is a key intervention of Anemia Mukt Bharat.
- The program is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- Its success and impact lie in convergence with the Swachh Bharat Mission. NDD also presents opportunities to further policy dialogue on health and nutrition as a way of supplementing efforts under POSHAN Abhiyan.
- Intestinal worms are parasites that live in the human intestines and consume nutrients and vitamins that a child consumes.
- There are three main types of STH that infect people, roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides), whipworm (Trichuris trichiura) and hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale). These worms depend on the human body for their food and survival and while being there, they lay thousands of eggs each day.
- Transmission: STHs are transmitted via eggs in feces deposited in the local environment, typically through open defecation or lack of proper hygiene.
- Since worms feed on host (human body) tissues, including blood, it leads to loss of iron, and protein, resulting in anemia – reduced oxygen-carrying capacity due to less Haemoglobin (Hb) available in the body.
- Worm infection can also lead to diarrhea; dysentery; loss of appetite; reduced nutritional intake and physical fitness; increased malabsorption – a condition that prevents absorption of nutrients through the small intestine.
- In India, over 22 crore children under 14 years of age are at risk of STH infections.