Dashain delays vitamin A and deworming campaignIt will be held on November 3-4. These efforts are estimated to have cut deaths among children under five by 23 percent.
This year, the nationwide vitamin A supplementation and deworming campaign will be held on November 3 and 4, two weeks behind schedule.
The Ministry of Health and Population usually undertook a two-day campaign on October 19 and 20, but the drive has been postponed due to the Dashain festival.
As many as 2.7 million children aged six months to five years across the country are expected to be administered vitamin A supplements and deworming tablets.
The Nutrition Section of the Family Welfare Division of the Department of Health Services, which is responsible for running the campaign, said the necessary preparations for the programme have been over.
Deworming tablets are crucial to preventing many childhood diseases and reducing the mortality rate among children under five.
“We urge all parents to make sure that their children under five receive vitamin A supplement and deworming tablets from local distribution points,” Lila Bikram Thapa, chief of the Nutrition Section, said.
The ministry aims to give vitamin A 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 will be deployed nationwide for the campaign. The health ministry has been conducting the campaign twice a year—in April and in October—since 2003.
It is because of supplementation campaigns like these that night blindness among children, which used to be very high until two decades ago, has 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. Regular supplementation campaigns are estimated to have reduced deaths among children under five by 23 percent.
These programmes, officials say, had the coverage rates of over 94 percent, the highest among all health campaigns run in the country in the past. However, the coverage declined to over 80 percent due to the Covid-19 pandemic that lasted three years.
In 2020, a lot of children missed out on vitamin A supplementation and deworming because of the pandemic.
According to the World Health Organization, vitamin A deficiency causes visual impairment (night blindness) and vulnerability to illnesses like measles and diarrhoea among children. The supplement boosts immunity and ensures children’s natural growth.