IPA’s Deworm the World (DtW) initiative, a collaboration with Partnership for Child Development, has exciting news to share. DtW released a statement reporting that its support operation in the Indian state of Bihar has treated over 17 million children, making it the largest school-based deworming effort in the world’s history.
Implemented from February through April 2011, the program aimed to target all school-age children in Bihar, which suffers from a very high rate of parasitic worm infection – exceeding 50% in most districts, according to DtW surveys. Led by the Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC) and the State Health Society Bihar (SHSB) and administered by teachers with DtW providing technical coordination and monitoring assistance, the program reached over 80% of its target population of nearly 21 million.
The simple treatment consists of the administration of a deworming tablet once or twice a year, and has been shown to improve school participation and learning ability for the children treated. The profound nutritional, health, and educational gains of de-worming have further been shown to result in higher productivity, wages, and possibly quality of life in the long-term. Combined with the cost-effectiveness of the treatment, these benefits have made deworming a very promising choice for scale-up. This recent success demonstrates that a large-scale program can be incredibly effective, through the focused collaboration of program designers, school administration, and technical organizers.