In order to combat health risks in children, the central government is planning to include kids who are not part of any school or Anganwadi scheme in the upcoming National Deworming Day, which is slated to be held in August.

The 2014 report published by WHO mentioned that in India over 22 crore children aged between 1-14 years were at risk of contracting intestinal worm infections. With India having the highest number of worm infections in the world, the children’s growth and development are in a precarious condition. Not only it affects the child’s health but also negatively impacts their performance in school.

According to the Mint report, Ministry of health and family welfare came to a decision on Tuesday after the planning and review meeting with 25 states and technical assistance partners of the programme, including Evidence Action, a non-profit organization which works to support governments in developing school-based deworming programmes in Kenya, India, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.

The National Deworming Day came into being in 2015 and this flagship programme is meant to counter public health risk of intestinal worms in girls and boys aged 1-19 years. Therefore, the ministry is likely to expand the treatment coverage.

Joint secretary of the ministry of health and family welfare, Vandana Gurnani said to Mint, “It is crucial that we now give focused attention to reaching children who are not part of our school and Anganwadi systems. This out-of-school population is the most marginalized and vulnerable population of our country.

To ensure that this programme benefits all children, the states must look at new methods and strategies and use new technology. “Additionally, all states should also leverage community mobilization opportunities for the aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog, under the extended purview of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan to increase coverage,” she said, as mentioned by the report.

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According to the report, this year in February, India has reached out to over 2.6 crore children making National Deworming Day the largest fixed-day Anganwadi and school-based deworming programme across the globe.