Lack of data hindering assessment of folic acid project

Lack of data hindering assessment of folic acid project

The evaluation of Weekly Iron-Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) programme is posing a major challenge for the Department of Health and Family Welfare as there is no information about the beneficiaries’ previous anaemic status.

The national statistics reveal that 69.5 per cent of the children who are aged below five years, are anaemic (low haemoglobin levels). While it is 58 per cent among pregnant women, the prevalence is 30 per cent among adolescent boys. However, there is no reliable data on anaemic level in the State, officials of the Department of Health and Family Welfare said.

The programme is being implemented across the State for a stipulated period of 52 months, in co-ordination with the Education, Women and Child Welfare and Health departments. “To understand how many children have been benefitted or whether anaemia cases have come down, we do not have an exact count of how many had the problem at the first place,” an official said.

While keeping tabs on girls is comparatively easy, it is a Herculean task when it comes to boys, the officials explained, adding that out-of-school children also pose a challenge to the Department as it is difficult keep a count of them.

“When it comes to the girls, we have anganwadi and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers who are assisting us in the task. But for boys, there is nothing as such,” officials added.

While every district health officer is expected to give a report on the distribution of iron and folic acid supplements before fifth of every month, not many have submitted it on time. “It is a tedious process involving a lot of paper work. It also involves inter-departmental co-ordination. The main problem lies in no one taking the responsibility,” an official said.

While over 80 per cent of the State is covered under the programme, only 10 to 15 districts  have submitted reports, he added.

The Department of Health and Family Welfare in co-ordination with the Department of Education has come up with a proposal to make the entire process online and thus reducing paper-work.

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