With an aim to eradicate anaemia among children and women, the state health department has recently launched a state-wide ‘Mission Shakti’ programme, said a senior health department official.
“We have to understand that fighting anaemia among children alone will not help us check its prevalence in the state. Until we target young girls and to-be mothers, the population will continue to be iron deficient. Keeping this in mind, this scheme has been launched on May 28 across the state, simultaneously. The department is aiming to reduce the numbers in one cycle; a year’s time,” said health commissioner J P Gupta.
The scheme that is divided into five target areas includes children right from 6 months to 45 years, women of reproductive age. Also, the scheme gives more force to the Central government’s ‘National Iron Plus Initiative’ where in children and women found with symptoms of jaundice will be given free treatment.
The five groups are children between 6 months to 60 months, 5 to 10 years, 10 to 19 years, pregnant and lactating mothers that will be looked after by Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers, anganwadi workers, school teachers while ASHA workers would cover women of reproductive age (15-45 years) during house visits.
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As per the requirements, these groups are then administered with three components – Iron folic acid supplement (IFA), de-worming medicine, vitamin A dose to children of one year and above, frequency to depend upon age and condition.
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-3 2005-06 (NFHS-4 2014-15 data for Gujarat is yet to be released) has stated anaemia as a major health problem in Gujarat, especially among women and children. It can result in maternal mortality, weakness, diminished physical and mental capacity, increased morbidity from infectious diseases, prenatal mortality, premature delivery, low birth weight, and (in children) impaired cognitive performance, motor development, and scholastic achievement.
Not only NFHS, but also state government’s School Health Programme (SHP) has indicated the number of anaemic and malnourished children on a rise. As per the latest SHP report for the year 2015-16, the number of anaemic children are 6.06 lakh that increased from 5.13 lakh in 2014-15.