Anaemia: Severe Public Health Problem  

The prevalence of anaemia in pregnant women continues to be high despite some nationwide programmes. As per National Family Health Survey-IV (2015-16), anaemia prevalence among the pregnant women in the India is at 50.4%. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on anaemia, prevalence of 40% and above is considered as a severe public health problem for a country.

According to National Family Health Survey-V (2019-20) Phase-I data in respect of 22 States and UTs which was released recently, the State/UT-wise prevalence of anaemia in pregnant women is around the WHO considered ‘severe public health problem’.

Anemia in pregnancy is a condition with effects that may be deleterious to mothers and fetuses. It considerably increases fetal and maternal mortality and morbidity due to maternal vulnerability for infection and hemorrhage.

As per the latest government survey, five States/ UTs namely Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir have anaemia prevalence less than 40%. Jammu and Kashmir has the lowest 20.7(less than 11 gm/dl) but there is no room for complacency.

The Government of India, in 2018, launched the Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) strategy under POSHAN Abhiyaan with the target for reducing anaemia in women, children and adolescents in life cycle approach. The strategy aims to cover children 6-59 months, children 5-9 years, adolescents 10-19 years, women of reproductive age (15-49 years) pregnant women and lactating women through newer interventions. There is need to effective focus on strengthening supply chain, demand generation and putting in place monitoring mechanisms. The primary reason for the anaemia is said to be iron deficiency.

As per experts, if there is very poor compliance for oral iron, it could be given in the injection form at an interval of four weeks along with other necessary professionally prescribed interventions for better compliance. Iron fortification of foods also improves intake, as per the experts.

The government formed laid schemes and efforts are made to meet the challenges through various means including providing Iron and Folic Acid supplementation to the pregnant women during ANC and providing incentives to front line workers for identification and follow-up of pregnant women with severe anaemia. However there is need to for ensuring strict compliance besides providing training and orientation of medical officers and staff nurses on the AMB guidelines.

The government needs to create field level awareness through community mobilization activities, focusing on anaemia in pregnant women and addressing the issues related to it.


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