3.5 million children under five to be given vitamin A from todayAround 2.9 million children above one year to be fed deworming tablets also.
Around 3.5 million children between six and 59 months across the country will be administered vitamin A supplements in a two-day campaign scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
This year, the nationwide vitamin A supplementation campaign was delayed by two weeks, due to the Dashain festival.
The Nutrition Section of the Family Welfare Division of the Department of Health Services, which runs the campaign, said that 2.9 million children between one and five years of age will also be administered deworming tablets.
“All necessary preparations for the campaign have been completed,” said Lila Bikram Thapa, chief of the section. “We will request all parents to ensure that their children are administered vitamin A supplements and 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.
Vitamin A deficiency is estimated to be responsible for nearly a fourth of the global child mortality from measles, diarrhoea and malaria.
The supplementation 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.
Deworming tablets are crucial to preventing many childhood diseases and reducing the mortality rate among children under five, according to child health experts.
The vitamin A supplementation and deworming campaign had coverage rates of over 94 percent, the highest among all health campaigns in the country, in the past. However, the coverage declined to just over 80 percent in recent years.
In 2020, a lot of children missed out on vitamin A supplementation and deworming because of the Covid 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.