​​The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare today launched the first 'National Deworming Day' -a massive school-based deworming effort in twelve states on Tuesday February 10.

Jagat Prakash Nadda, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare inaugurated the national programme, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, together with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Rajendra Rathore, Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Government of Rajasthan, in the presence of senior officials from the Central and State Government.

National Deworming Day is a groundbreaking initiative focused on reducing the threat of parasitic worm infections, a widespread health issue affecting over 241 million children in India alone. 

India has the highest burden of soil-transmitted helminths--parasitic worms--in the world. Parasitic worms in children interfere with nutrient uptake, and can contribute to anemia​, malnourishment, and impaired mental and physical development. 

According to the 2012 report 'Children in India', published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Govt. of India, 48% of children under the age of five years are stunted and 19.8% are wasted, indicating that half of the country's children are malnourished.

Jagat Prakash Nadda said, "The early years of a child are the most critical and significant. I am confident that if the comprehensive set of actions identified in National Deworming Day Guidelines is fully implemented, children will have improved health outcomes and be able to achieve their potential to the fullest."

Mass, school-based deworming is safe, cost-effective, and can scale to millions of schools quickly. Deworming has been shown to reduce absenteeism in schools, improve learning outcomes, and increase the likelihood of higher wage jobs later in life. 

The timely, high quality, mass-based deworming programme for children of pre-school and school age children in India will dramatically reduce the harm caused by parasitic worm infections in millions of children in India. The Government of India is launching a fixed one-day school-based program to ensure intensive deworming coverage and targeted outreach. Community mobilization efforts are also undertaken to engage community-based health workers and other local institutions.

Read the original article​.