"The de-worming initiative, along with measures to address hygiene and sanitation, will go a long way in improving the health of children as well as that of the country," WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a statement.
The official congratulated India for launching last year one of the largest public health campaigns to de-worm 270 million children in the age group of one to 19 years, on a single day across the country.
She said the scale of the campaign is unprecedented and reflects the country's resolve to address health issues related to parasitic intestinal worms (soil-transmitted helminthes).
"Intestinal worms are a serious impediment to the development of children in India, who account for 27 per cent of the world's school-age children requiring treatment for the problem. Intestinal worms affect a child's ability to grow - both intellectually and physically," she stated.
India's action complements WHO's ongoing battle against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), which though on the verge of elimination, continue to pose public health challenges in the South-East Asia Region, Singh said.
"WHO is prioritising elimination of NTD in the Region and is committed to support all countries scale-up efforts and to make NTDs a history," she stressed.
Besides India, the WHO's South-East Asia Region comprises 11 member states including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
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