September 7, 2011 1:28:44 am
A study to assess the prevalence of intestinal worms in children has thrown up some worrying results. Over 16 per cent of the children in Delhi were found to be infected by worms,in comparison to 14 per cent in Andhra Pradesh.
In a joint venture with Deworm the World,an NGO,the Health department tested 3,251 children from 40 government schools,40 MCD schools and 48 slums for worm infection.
According to the study,The average prevalence rate of worms was significantly higher in MCD schools (18.86 per cent) and slums (18.79 per cent) as compared to Delhi government schools (9.91 per cent). Dr Yogita Kumar,the Delhi coordinator for the study from Deworm the World,said,We have carried out a similar study in Bihar,where the prevalence rate was 18 per cent. But Delhi,with its considerably smaller size and population,has come a close second.
The study,conducted under the school health scheme,will be followed by a massive deworming project aimed at mapping the prevalence pattern. Under the month-long programme,stool samples of children were studied for presence of worm eggs.
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Soil-transmitted helminths,commonly known as intestinal worms (Roundworm,Whipworm and Hookworm),have been identified as the most common parasite affecting children from deprived communities. The findings also indicate a higher presence of these worms in young children.
As much as 17.3 per cent of the affected children were found to be in the age group of 1-5 years,16.1 per cent in the 6-12 age group,and 12.7 per cent in the 13-18 age group. Students of primary schools also seemed more susceptible at 14.6 per cent,when compared to secondary school children at 11.1 per cent.
Dr Kumar said Deworm the World has proposed a massive deworming project under the Delhi government,keeping this trend in view. Though we carried out a similar project in Bihar,in Delhi we have proposed that pre-school children from slums also be included in the program. In both Bihar and Andhra Pradesh,we have only included school-going children in the programme.
The prevalence of roundworm was found to be the highest in Delhi (11.84 per cent),followed by whipworm (5.63 per cent) and hookworm (1.38 per cent). A break-up of the district-wise data shows that overall,the highest prevalence was found in Northeast Delhi (26.7 per cent) and Central Delhi (25.4 per cent).
Research has shown that mass deworming programmes can reduce school absenteeism by as much as 25 per cent,making it a cost-effective ways to increase participation in school activities.
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