Samina Alvi, wife of President Dr Arif Alvi, administers a tablet to a student at a ceremony on Monday. — APP
Samina Alvi, wife of President Dr Arif Alvi, administers a tablet to a student at a ceremony on Monday. — APP

ISLAMABAD: First Lady Samina Alvi on Monday said the campaign to deworm 17 million children in Pakistan will not only help achieve sustainable development goals but overcome malnutrition and anaemia among children.

She was speaking at the launch of awareness campaign of the second Annual Mass Deworming at the Islamabad Model College for Girls, F-7/4. The annual event will be held on Jan 23 on Deworming Day.

The school-based deworming programme being launched in coordination with the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education will treat 547,000 children aged between five and 14 years in Islamabad to overcome intestinal infections.

Begum Alvi termed ‘alarming’ the findings of a national survey to assess intestinal worm infections, revealing that approximately 17 million school-age children in the country, including around 574,000 in Islamabad, were in need of regular deworming.

She expressed satisfaction that the Islamabad Deworming Initiative successfully treated 200,320 children in its first round of mass deworming in 2019, with a target of treating 574,000 children in the second round.

First lady asks parents to send their children to school on Jan 23 for taking deworming medicine

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said deworming of children would ensure their improved physical and cognitive growth, resistance to infections and positive school performance.

He said the education ministry in collaboration with a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Sight Saver, had finalised another project to check vision of schoolchildren and provide them free eyeglasses, besides treatment at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), if necessary.

Parliamentary Secretary for Planning Kanwal Shauzab said the initiative was in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of addressing the health challenges of children, including malnutrition and stunted growth.

She urged parents to send their 5 to14-year-old children to their nearest government or private schools on January 23 during school timings for administering free and safe deworming medicine.

Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services Dr Nausheen Hamid said malnutrition was a big challenge with the highest mortality rate in the region.

She said according to the World Health Organisation’s estimates, Pakistan was a ‘high-burden’ country for its population infected with intestinal worms.

For the initiative, the World Health Organisation has provided deworming drugs through its donation programme.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2019

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