Women and Child Development (WDC) Ministry has asked the Health Ministry to transform its 'Deworming Programme' into a nation-wide campaign to bring down the alarming number of anaemic children in the country. India has the highest prevalence of anaemia in the world, with the country having 70 per cent anaemic children, a figure that has not changed in the past 30 years.
A senior WCD Ministry official said that the percentage of anaemic children has not improved in the last 30 years despite the government running National Anaemia Prophylaxis Programme to give iron folic acid tablets to children. "There are more than 70 per cent anaemic children in the country and it has been so for the last 30 years," he said. Around 71 per cent children are anemic in rural areas, he added. The ministry has asked the Health Ministry to look into the matter and a meeting of technical committee on Deworming Programme has been called to address the issue.
"Health Ministry's Deworming Programme is organised once a year. We have requested them to make it a nation-wide campaign like Polio and do it twice a year. They have a technical committee on this which will be meeting shortly to discuss the issue," the official said. He said that the high prevalence of anaemia in children is due to prevalence of 'hookworm', an infection caused by open defecation.(5 Iron Rich Foods)
"The problem of deworming is mainly because of hookworm. 60-65 per cent people in rural areas use public spaces for defecation and catch hookworm. So all the supplementary nutrition that we are trying to give is actually feeding the worms," he said. The Health Ministry had launched a 'National Deworming Day' in February to reduce the threat of parasitic worm infections in government schools and anganwadi centres across Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Tripura.