BHUBANESWAR: The mass deworming drive under National Deworming Day (NDD) went underway in the State on Wednesday with a target of covering around 1.08 crore children in the age group of 1-19.
Even as the drive reported maximum compliance, reports of adverse events following administration of the albendazole tablets and syrups trickled in from different parts. Over 100 children were reported to have fallen ill after taking the medications. While around 45 cases were reported from Khurda district, more than 20 fell sick in Cuttack, particularly from one school in Narsinghpur block.
There were reports of children falling ill in Angul, Sonepur and some other districts. While almost the bulk of the reported adverse events were mild in nature, one child was hospitalised in Nabarangpur district.
Most of the affected children demonstrated symptoms of nausea, vomiting and stomach pain after taking the medications.
“These are quite normal occurrences as the medication immediately starts working on the body. The effects are mostly prominent among those who have high worm load and are manifest with a feeling of nausea, giddiness, stomach pain and in some cases vomiting. They, however, last for two to three hours at the most, which has been the case with all the reported cases of illness coming in from the districts,” Deputy Director, Health and nodal officer for NDD Dr Biswaranjan Padhy said.
The State Health Department has also geared up to handle eventualities, putting all the CDMOs and district health officials on alert. “There has been no report of any serious adverse event as yet. There should not be any panic as the effects are normal and will not cause harm,” Health Secretary Arti Ahuja told mediapersons here.
The NDD has been planned as an annual drive by the Union Health Ministry to protect children from soil transmitted helminth infections from round worms, hook worms and whip worms. As per WHO estimates, around 68 per cent children at 241 million are at risk of infestation. The infestation affects physical and mental growth and is one of the major factors of malnutrition and anaemia among children.
The NDD will be followed up by a mop-up day (MUD) on February 15 to cover left-out children.