Nationwide vitamin A and deworming campaign kicks offIt is estimated that regular supplementation campaigns have reduced deaths among children under five by 23 percent. Coverage of the programme has declined due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ministry of Health and Population is conducting a two-day nationwide campaign to administer vitamin A supplements and deworming tablets to children under five years of age on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The campaign will be crucial in preventing many childhood diseases and reducing the mortality rate among children under five.
“We urge all parents of children under five to make sure that their children receive vitamin A supplement and deworming tablets from the distribution points in their localities,” said Lila Bikram Thapa, chief of Nutrition Section at the Family Welfare Division under the Department of Health Services.
The ministry aims to administer vitamin A supplement to over 2.75 million children aged between six months and five years. Over 2.4 million children above 12 months will be given the deworming tablets.
Around 52,000 female community health volunteers serving throughout the country will be deployed for the campaign. The Health Ministry has been conducting the campaign twice every year—in April and in October—since 2003.
It is because of supplementation campaigns like these that the night blindness problems among children, which used to be very high until two decades ago, have been almost eliminated, according to Thapa.
The vitamin A campaign is a success story in Nepal, as it has helped tackle the issue of vitamin A deficiency among children, which used to be a major public health problem in the country. It is estimated that regular supplementation campaigns have reduced deaths among children under five by 23 percent.
These supplementation programmes, officials say, had the coverage rates of over 94 percent, the highest among all health campaigns run in the country in the past but has declined to over 80 percent due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2020, a lot of children may have missed out on vitamin A supplementation and deworming because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The United Nations Children’s Fund in its report said that worldwide only two out of five children received the life-saving benefit of vitamin A supplementation in 2020.
Child health experts say that vitamin A supplementation campaigns are important for the overall growth of children and for protecting them from various infectious diseases.
According to the World Health Organization, vitamin A deficiency causes visual impairment (night blindness) and vulnerability to illnesses like measles and diarrhoea among children.