KARACHI: Secretary Health, Sindh, Zahid Ali Abbasi, recently inaugurated the Sindh Deworming Initiative‘s mass deworming campaign in Karachi in a ceremony held at the Karachi Press Club. The school-based deworming program officially starts by the end of January. Director, Schools Education Karachi, Hamid Karim was also present in the occasion. The Interactive Research and Development (IRD) Pakistan, Evidence Action, and Indus Health Network provided technical assistance to the federal and provincial governments to ensure high-quality program delivery.
Deworming drugs were donated through the WHO’s Drug Donation Program. The program was funded by Dubai Cares, a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum Global Initiatives, and donors following services of Give Well.
As per reports, the school-based deworming program aimed to treat over 500,000 schoolchildren in 2,600 selected government and private schools, as well as in 145 health facilities across the six districts of Karachi. All children enrolled in classes 1 to 10 would be encouraged to access treatment at a nearby school or any health facility displaying a banner on deworming day, as well as out-of-school children aged 5-14 years. The treatment would be provided free of charge.
Addressing the launching ceremony as the Chief Guest, Zahid Ali Abbasi remarked that annual mass deworming was very important for our children, as it would ensure improved physical and cogitative growth, resistance to other infections, and enhanced school performance.
Moreover, mass deworming was in direct support of and positively impacts Pakistan’s progression towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Additionally, it was one of the Pakistani government’s top health priorities, i.e., reducing the prevalence of undernutrition and anemia, added Zahid Ali Abbasi.
Deworming was a quick, easy, and safe measure to better the health and future of our children. The speakers urged parents and guardians to send their children to the nearest government or private school or health facility.
It is also pertinent to mention here that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that nearly 1 in 14 of the world’s population is infected globally with intestinal worms, also known as soil-transmitted helminths. Over 835 million children required treatment. These infections resulted from poor sanitation and hygiene conditions and tend to have the highest prevalence in schoolchildren.
A national survey conducted in 2016 found that approximately 17 million schoolchildren across Pakistan, including approximately 4.6 million children in Sindh, are in need of regular deworming.
Zahid Ali Abbasi further said the aim of the Sindh Health Department was to help the people of Pakistan to maintain and improved their health to make our population among the healthiest in the region. “Since children account for one-third of Pakistan’s population, we open-heartedly welcome the school-based deworming program in Pakistan and Sindh, as this will not only improve the health of our children, but it will
Hamid Karim, expressed appreciation towards the initiation of the deworming program, which targeted both enrolled and out-of-school children, ensuring no school-age child was left behind. He stated that the benefits of school-based deworming had been demonstrated through significant evidence proving that mass deworming improved both the health and academic performance of school-age children.
A deworming week would also commence, in selected public health facilities across Karachi to ensure wider access. The school-based deworming program was coordinated and led by the Ministry of Health, Sindh, and implemented in partnership with the Secretary of the School of Education and Literacy Education Department, and the Commissioner’s Office.