Weeklong school-based deworming programme in Islamabad kicks off today

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Zubair Qureshi

The school-based deworming programme is set to be conducted from today till Sep 4.

According to health ministry’s sources the programme will target 574,000 school-age children in approximately 2,000 government and private schools, as well as Deeni Madaris (religious seminaries) in Islamabad Capital Territory during the deworming week.

All children enrolled in classes 1-10 and out-of-school children aged 5 – 14, will be encouraged to access treatment at a nearby private and public school or deeni madrassa on deworming day.

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 of Pakistan’s top health priorities which are reducing malnutrition and anemia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 1.5 billion people, or nearly 1 in 4 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.

These infections result from poor sanitation and hygiene conditions and tend to have the highest prevalence in school-age children.

A national survey to assess intestinal worm infection in school-age children in 2016 found that approximately 17 million school-age children across Pakistan, including approximately 574,000 children in ICT, are in need of annual deworming.

Accordingly, around 200,000 school-age children (SAC) have been successfully dewormed in the previous two rounds of annual mass deworming in Islamabad in 2019 and 2020.

The school-based deworming programme in ICT is coordinated and led by the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training and implemented in partnership with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, Office of Chief Commission ICT and Capital Development Authority.

The Deworming is implemented at school-level by the teachers trained by the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), Private Education Institution Regulatory Authority (PEIRA), Basic Education Community Schools (BECS), National Human Development Commission (NCHD), Deeni Madaris Heads.

At the same time District Health Office in Islamabad is playing key role in leveraging their Lady Health Workers (LHWs) to deworm hard-to-reach children such as those who are out of school.

At national level, strategic oversight is provided for Pakistan Deworming Initiative by Ministry of Planning Development & Special Initiatives.

IRD Pakistan, Evidence Action and Indus Hospital & Health Network provide technical assistance to federal and provincial governments to ensure high-quality program delivery. Deworming medicines (Mebendazole 500 mg) are donated through the WHO donation program.

The programme is also supported by Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.

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