Over 17 million children in Bihar were targeted for deworming treatment using Albendazole, on 23rd January 2014. Albendazole is drug recommended by the World Health Organization to combat parasitic worms, and has been safely used to treat hundreds of millions of children worldwide.
This was the third round of deworming using Albendazole in Bihar state, and the number of children targeted makes it the world's largest school-based deworming initiative. These 17 million school-age children, both enrolled and non-enrolled, were targeted for deworming treatment in all government schools in Bihar, as part of the Bihar School-Based Mass Deworming Programme. Over 70,000 schools took part in the programme being carried out jointly by the State Health Society of Bihar (SHSB) and the Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC), with support from "Deworm the World Initiative', part of the global non-profit organization Evidence Action.
The first round of school-based deworming in Bihar, carried out in 2011, treated 17 million children, followed by 16.3 million children in 2012. Children who are left out on deworming day (23rd January) will be provided the tablet on the mop up date of January 28. Non-enrolled children are advised to have their meals at home and take the drug at the nearest school.
The SHSB has issued an adverse event protocol to all health facilities and providers across the state to advice on management of any adverse events if reported. All headmasters and schoolteachers who have been oriented on deworming had already received a briefing on adverse event management at the school level.
On 23rd January, a very small number of children out of those who received their deworming treatment, did report mild adverse events. These adverse events were expected to occur in some children as the worm load and incidence of worm infestation is very high in Bihar. These adverse events were handled ably by the Health department of Bihar. All children were safe and were discharged after preliminary treatment as per the adverse event protocol.