ISLAMABAD: The school-based deworming programme will target 574,000 children in approximately 2,000 government and private schools as well as seminaries in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The programme, which is set to be launched from Aug 30 and will continue till Sept 4, will be coordinated and led by the Ministry of Federal Education and implemented in partnership with the Ministry of National Health Services and offices of chief commissioner and others.

Deworming week will target all children enrolled in classes 1 – 10 besides out-of-school children. The government has urged parents and guardians to send their children (aged 5 – 14) to their nearest government, private school or seminary to receive free and safe deworming, a press release issued by the Planning Commission stated on Sunday.

Deworming is essential for a child’s physical and cognitive growth and ensures resistance to other infections and improved school performance. It will significantly contribute towards the government’s top health priorities - reducing malnutrition and anemia, the press release said.

Programme to continue from Aug 30 to Sept 4; Parents, guardians urged to send children to receive treatment

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 1.5 billion people or nearly one in four people of the world’s population are infected globally with intestinal worms, also known as soil-transmitted helminths, with over 835 million children in need of treatment.

The press release said infections result from poor sanitation and hygiene conditions and tend to have the highest prevalence in school-going children. A national survey to assess intestinal worm infection in school children in 2016 revealed that approximately 17 million school children across Pakistan, including approximately 574,000 children in ICT, are in need of annual deworming.

Accordingly, around 200,000 schoolchildren have been successfully dewormed in the previous two rounds of annual mass deworming in Islamabad in 2019 and 2020.

The programme is implemented by teachers trained by the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira), Basic Education Community Schools (BECS), National Human Development Commission (NCHD) and seminary heads.

The press release said at the same time District Health Office (DHO) in Islamabad is helping its lady health workers (LHWs) reach out-of-reach children.

At a national level, strategic oversight is provided for the initiative by the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives.

The campaign in Islamabad is leading the way for school-based deworming followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, where deworming is planned between August – October 2021 as well, targeting approximately 15 million school-aged children across Pakistan.

“Given the Covid-19 pandemic, the implementation of the campaign has been adapted to ensure the safety of all stakeholders and communities involved. Under these measures, all teachers training follow the government’s safety protocols such as strict compliance with mask wearing, limiting capacity of indoor gatherings, maintaining distance of at least two metres, as well as ensuring the availability of hand sanitisers,” the press release said.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2021

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