PB No. 6 Albendazole- The Step Child of Maternal Healthcare System

This policy brief raises a concern about the persistently low rates of deworming among pregnant women, as reported through the Health Management Information System (HMIS) data. Deworming using a single dose of Albendazole during the pregnancy is an important component of the package of services under the ante-natal-care (ANC). The adverse effects of worm infestation on morbidity, malnutrition and other peri-natal outcomes are well documented. Yet coverage rates for albendazole remain significantly low compared to distribution of IFA and Ca tablets, both multi-dose, and the Tetanus Toxoid (TT) injection. This ‘coverage deficit’ for deworming service amounts to filling a ‘leaking bucket’. The helminths have the last laugh, notwithstanding the high coverage under other ANC components. It is high time that this deficit is eliminated with all seriousness.