National Deworming Day 2024: Date, history, significance; what is deworming and what's its purpose
National Deworming Day is observed every year on February 10 in India to deworm children between 1 to 19 years of age. All you want to know about this day.
National Deworming Day is observed every year on February 10 in India and is aimed at deworming all children between 1 and 19. The day which is considered world's largest deworming programme was launched in 2015 in India and aims to target almost 240 million children that are at risk of acquiring soil-transmitted helminths in India. According to WHO, intestinal worms or soil-transmitted helminthiases are caused by infection with the nematodes Ascaris lumbricoides (roundworm), Trichuris trichiura (whipworm), and Ancylostoma duodenale or Necator americanus (hookworms) and are among the commonest infections in humans. (Also read: Deworming tablets to be given during special drive on Feb 1)
Worm infections can affect nutrient uptake in kids and cause problems like anaemia, malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development. Government of India administer deworming tablets through Anganwadi centres and schools in all states and union territories. While the first round is conducted on February 10, it is followed up by second round on August 10 every year.
Dr. Peeyoosh Rankhamb, Consultant - Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Kharghar in an interview with HT Digital answers frequently asked questions about intestinal worms and deworming.
What is deworming?
Deworming is using medication to address worm infections by eradicating parasites or intestinal worms in the child’s body. Failure to take deworming tablets or medication when it comes to children can result in soil-transmitted helminths, a condition in which a collection of worms impacts the human body. A widespread health risk, worm infestation poses a significant threat to infant mortality rates.
Types of worms that are known to impact a child’s health
The three types of worms that infect people are roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), whipworms (Trichuris trichiura), and hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale).
Why is it important to deworm a child?
Although the harmful effects of this worm infestation may not be immediately apparent, over time it could become a serious threat to life. Persistent infection can have detrimental impacts on children's growth, nutrition, mental abilities, and learning.
The factors leading to worm infestation
Engaging in unsanitary behaviours such as walking barefoot on soil containing worms, consuming food with dirty hands, drinking contaminated water or unpasteurized milk, using unwashed vegetables in cooking, or coming into contact with animals, can lead to contracting this infection.
Vital symptoms of worm infestation in children
Signs of intestinal parasites include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, as well as fatigue, loss of appetite, dehydration, frequent urination, weight loss, redness, or rashes in the buttock area. Additionally, weakness, exhaustion, or hunger may be experienced due to the presence of worms. Abdominal discomfort or pain and stool with traces of blood are also common symptoms that will need timely intervention.
Health risks associated with worm infestation
Intestinal worm infections have a severe impact on the health of children, as these parasites consume the nutrients from their bodies, leading to poor nutritional status.
The most common consequence of worm infestations is anaemia, a condition characterised by insufficient healthy red blood cells due to the worms feeding on human tissues and blood, causing a loss of iron and protein.
Worm infections in children frequently lead to low body weight and impaired growth. This is due to the worm causing malabsorption, which hinders the absorption of essential nutrients in the small intestine.
Certain types of worms can decrease appetite, further impacting a child's physical well-being and leading to symptoms like diarrhoea and dysentery.
How to prevent worm infestation in children
- Before eating, children need to wash their hands. Parents should make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables before cooking them.
- Use filtered water for drinking and other purposes.
- Keep the child’s fingernails trimmed and clean.
- Children should use hand wash before and after using the bathroom.
- Avoid unhygienic habits like sucking fingers, biting nails, or scratching your buttocks.
- Always ensure that the child's food is covered.