ISLAMABAD: The medical condition of a number of children reportedly deteriorated after they were given deworming medicine in schools and seminaries on Thursday.

The government launched the ‘Deworm Islamabad Initiative’ to cover 570,000 children between the age of five and 15, who were at the risk of infection from intestinal worms, also known as ‘soil-transmitted helminths’.

NHS ministry spokesperson Sajid Shah said as soon as he received the information he checked and learnt that only a few children were shifted to hospitals.

“All the children were discharged from hospitals by the evening,” he said.

FDE Human Resource Development Director Javed Iqbal Mirza in a statement said: “We had to administer medicine to 574,000 children of governement and private schools and seminaries. Teachers were trained before conducting the exercise. They were also informed about side effects and how they should deal with such issues,” he said.

Some students had mild side effects, majority of them were normal after some time and some were shifted to hospitals, he added.

Mr Mirza said a survey conducted in 2016 showed that children in the capital were vulnerable to worms.

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) gastroenterologist Dr Wasim Khawaja said condition of children can deteriorate due to allergy, side effects or any other reason such as having an empty stomach before taking medicine.

“Despite that it is much better to give medicine, twice a year, as our children are constantly vulnerable to worms due to lack of access to clean water. They have substandard edible items due to which worms can grow in their intestines,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2020