Kids’ health to get vitamin A shot in the arm

Kathmandu, October 15:

The National Vitamin A Program (NVAP) is administering Vitamin A capsules to 3.7 million children and medicine of worm to 3.1 million children across the country on October 18 and 19.

Vitamin A capsules will be administered to the children between six months to five-year-old and the medicines for worms will be provided to the children of one to five years.

Issuing a press release, the NVAP said today that about 49,000 trained female community health volunteers (FCHVs) will administer the capsules with the assistance of health workers, teachers, NGO members, politicians and other community leaders.

According to an estimate, the programme has reached millions of children and met 90 per cent of the target.

As a result, vitamin A deficiency in pre-school children is no longer a problem of public health significance and an estimated 30 per cent mortality rate of children has been averted.

Started in 1993, the NVAP is being implemented in various phases with an aim at reducing child mortality and morbidity related to vitamin A deficiency by administering supplements of vitamin A capsules to children, treating xerophthalmia, severe malnutrition, prolonged diarrhoea as well as measles and encouraging dietary intake of vitamin A and breastfeeding.

Initially, the Nepal Technical Assistance Group (NTAG) had initiated the programme in eight districts.

Lowering the high prevalence of clinical vitamin A deficiency, a major problem in the country, the programme now is not only successful in providing the supplements, but has also created awareness among people to improve food practices — daily supplement of leafy vegetables and yellow fruits.

It is believed that vitamin A deficiency affects approximately 21 per cent of the developing world’s pre-school-aged children and leads to the deaths of over 800,000 women and children

each year.

In 1990s, 2-8 per cent of pre-school-aged Nepali children experienced severe vitamin A deficiency or xerophthalmia associated with blindness and risk of child death.

According to the 1998 Nepal Micronutrient Status Survey, night-blindness and Bitot’s Spots were reduced among children who received capsules as compared to children who were deprived of vitamin A.