'45 pc kids suffer from anaemia'

Stats from govt schools

Around 45 per cent of schoolchildren in Delhi government schools are suffering from anaemia, according to figures available with the Directorate of Health Services.
Of the total number of girl students screened, 44.9 per cent were anaemic. Among boys, 16.3 per cent had anaemia.

“Of more than six lakh children screened from April 2014 till date, 40-45 per cent schoolchildren are suffering from anaemia. However, majority of the children are suffering from mild anaemia,” said Dr Adarsh Kumar, Additional Director, School Health Services, Directorate of Health Services (DHS).

“The weekly folic acid supplementation programme is on. Every Wednesday, we are distributing folic acid tablets among children, a scheme launched in 2013, which are likely to improve the haemoglobin level among children,” said Dr Kumar.

The DHS aims to bring down the percentage of anaemic children in schools through educating teachers and students alike on the need to improve nutritional levels in meals.
Health experts said there is an urgent need to step up measures to improve the situation as anaemia has long-term ill health effects. Poverty and discrimination against girl children continue to be the primary causes why more number of girls have lower haemoglobin levels.

“Malnutrition is the primary cause behind children suffering from anaemia. It is a vicious cycle as an anaemic mother gives birth to an anaemic child. The other factor that plays a major role is the social factor in which girls are discriminated against and given lesser nutritious food than boys in the families. The third reason why a majority of girls are anaemic is because the menstrual cycle,” said Dr Alok Agarwal, head of the paediatric unit, Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital.

Children suffering from anaemia complain of weakness, lack of concentration in studies, loss of memory, and lethargy. In cases of extreme anaemia, it can also lead to heart failure, said doctors.

“If anaemia is not identified at an early stage, girls face complications when they are in the child-bearing age, especially during pregnancy,” said Dr Monika Suri, gynaecologist, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital.   

The weekly folic acid programme doesn’t come without its side-effects either.
Government doctors said the common side effects of the folic acid supplements are stomach upset, abdominal pain and vomiting. “Even if the side effects are mild, it is a setback to the programme launched. Some side effects prevail because children are unaware under what conditions the tablet should be taken,” said a doctor at a government hospital.

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