National Deworming Day (NDD) is observed annually on 10 February. The day was started as an initiative under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to make every child between the ages of one and 19 years across the country free from intestinal worms, as per a statement on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's website. Furthermore, these intestinal worms are also referred to as Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH).
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are about 241 million children in India who are at risk of intestinal worms. And more than 836 million children worldwide are at risk of this parasitic worm infection.
What are intestinal worms?
Intestinal worms are parasites that live in the human body. They consume important nutrients from the human body that leads to poor nutrition levels, blood loss and stunted growth in people.
It can also result in children developing anemia, malnutrition and impaired cognitive, mental and physical development.
How are children infected with intestinal worms?
Children regularly exposed to poor sanitation and unhygienic conditions are prone to intestinal worms. They are also transmitted through contact with infected or dirty soil.
Here are a few ways to prevent worm infections?
Intestinal worms can be prevented by improving sanitation and hygiene. Other steps to keep in mind include:
- Washing hands regularly and properly (especially before eating and after using toilets)
- Using clean and sanitary toilets
- Wearing slippers most of the time (especially while going out)
- Drinking clean and safe water
- Eating food that has been cooked properly
- Washing vegetables and fruits in clean water before using them
- Keeping nails short and clean always
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare established National Deworming Day in February 2015 in 277 districts across 11 states and Union territories (UTs). These include Haryana, Karnataka, Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Tripura, as per a Times Now report. Since then, the day has been observed on 10 February across the country every year.