New Delhi: Around 35 lakh children in the age group of two to 17 will be provided chewable deworming tablets at all government-run schools and Anganwadi centres here under a massive programme launched by the Delhi government to rid the children of worm infestation.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit kicked off the programme on Monday, offering the tablets to 50 children. The scheme was envisaged after a study conducted by the government two months back which found 16 percent children in the city to be infected by worms.

Terming it as a "mega initiative" to improve overall health of children in the city, Dikshit said kids having worm infestation often suffer from anaemia and many other diseases which in turn limit their overall growth and development.

"This is an effort to invest in the future of the children. Worms affect health of children and to an extent limit their access to education and overall development," Dikshit said.

Officials said chewable tablets of Mebendozole will be distributed free of cost on Tuesday in all schools run by the city government, civic agencies and Delhi Cantonment Board. The tablets will also be made available at anganwadi centres for children and girls under the SABLA scheme, a nutritional programme for girls aged 11 to 18 years.

They said a designated teacher will offer the tablets to the children in each school while anganwadi workers will provide the medication to kids and adolescent girls at anganwadi centres.

"De-worming is by far the best way to immediately improve the quality of life for our children as worms impact physical and mental growth of children. Our children in Delhi have a fairly large disease burden due to worms," Dikshit said.