According to the latest findings of the National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS-5), more than half of India’s women in the age group of 15 years to 49 years are anaemic. The survey highlights that the cases of anaemia, among both adults and children, increased between 2019-2021, when compared to the last survey done in 2015-2016. It affects children and adults across age groups and gender.
Regarding J&K context, survey reveals that around 66 percent women in Jammu and Kashmir are anaemic.
Among the J&K women, it says 25 percent are with mild anaemia, 38 percent with moderate anaemia, and 3 percent with severe anaemia
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.
Anemia in pregnancy affects deleteriously the mothers and fetuses. It considerably increases fetal and maternal mortality and morbidity due to maternal vulnerability for infection and hemorrhage.
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 administration needs to create field level awareness through community mobilization activities, focusing on anaemia in pregnant women and addressing the issues related to it. People also need to include iron, folate and vitamin-rich food in the diet.