55% of teens are anaemic in India
Contrary to popular perception that only the fairer sex suffers from anaemia, over 55 per cent of both adolescent girls and boys are anaemic in the country, according to National Family Health Survey 3 data.
"It is a myth that only girls suffer from anaemia. According to the NFHS 3 data, over 55 per cent of both adolescent girls and boys are anaemic," said Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
"Anaemia in adolescent girls enhances risk of preterm delivery and having babies with low birth weight. These babies are more likely to be ill and not reach the age of one year. It is estimated that anaemia is the underlying cause for 20-40 per cent of maternal deaths," Gupta said.
Explaining further she said that worm infestation, caused mainly due to open deification, poor sanitation and poor water quality, also causes anaemia. Anaemia can affect physical and cognitive development in both boys and girls and their intelligent quotient. These even make adolescents prone to infection and lead to other serious diseases.
Talking about the initiative, she said under the programme all adolescent children in 6 to 12th standard at government and government aided/ municipal schools will be given a Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablets once a week under the direct observation of teachers, and Albendazole twice a year for deworming.
Further, the adolescent boys and girls will be informed of the correct dietary practises for increasing iron intake and about the significance of preventing worm infestation and encourage adoption of correct hygiene practises including use of footwear to prevent worm infestation.
Out of school adolescent girls in the age of 10-19 years will also be provided with the tablets free of cost under the Rajiv Gandhi Programme Scheme for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA) through the Anganwadi centres.
Commenting on the recent reports of children taking ill after consuming IFA tablets, Gupta said that nausea, vomiting or pain in abdomen are some common side-effects which will are temporary. But the in long time it will help these women in handling the disease.
The progress of the programme will be monitored by the State Health Department at state level. The state WIFS Advisory Committee will include officers from Health, Education and Women and Child Developments departments.
In the same way, District WIFS advisory committee will monitor the progress of the programme at district level.
The ministry has allocated Rs 135 crores for this project. With this programme, the Health Ministry aims to target 13 crore adolescents in the country. The programme would be officially launched in Karnataka on July 17 and all the states will be implementing the programme henceforth.