Anaemia is rampant in all states.
Both girls and boys are affected.
Anaemia is no more a ?female disease? now.
However girls are worse off than boys.
Anaemic mother make anaemic babies and their IQ is 5-10 points less. During infancy and early childhood, IDA is associated with impaired linear, psychomotor development and cognitive function. These deficits may be irreversible. So nurturing should begin from early childhood in first 5 years of life.
Adolescence, as a period of growth and development, is considered the second best time to intervene, to catch up in physical and mental development and improve anaemia and stamina.
National Anaemia Control and Prophylaxis Programme has been fighting the relentless struggle to control of IDA since 1970, but has not yielded any meaningful results.
There is a growing awareness now that IDA is one of many factors impeding school performance of children and human resource development thus affecting socio-economic prosperity of a developing nation like ours. The combination of unacceptably high prevalence rates and inadequate preventative national programs highlights the need for new effective sustainable strategies to control IDA specially in children and adolescents..
Anaemia among women is not new to India but nobody is bothered about it. It has very adverse pregnancy effects, leading to very high maternal death rate. The other problems that women experiences are reduced work productivity.
It is a myth that boys and men do not have the problem of anaemia. Results are horrifying. Most Indians suffer from ?chronic tiredness feeling? and country is loosing billions and billions of dollars due to man-hour loss.
The Anaemia Free India initiative taken up by the Indian Medical Association can be one big concerted effort, which can make a tangible difference in the health scenario of our young nation. The implementable strategies have been envisioned by IMA are a definite step towards improving and reversing this silent epidemic that we are facing.
Anaemia and malnutrition are two sides of same coin. More than 10,000 children are believed to have died of malnutrition in so called progressive state like Maharashtra alone in last couple of years. It is said that 47 per cent of Indian children below the age of 3 years are moderate and severely malnuourished (UNICEF, 2005). This is higher than sub-saharan Africa (30 per cent). If we include mild malnutrition, the figure will reach 90 per cent. The denial of as little as 200-300 calories in the child daily diet and lack of iron folic acid supplementation is what can make the difference between normal growth and normal haemoglobin and the inevitable stunting, illnesses and deaths of children due to anaemia and malnutrition.
Mid-day meals?a wonderful scheme for improving education and nutritional status of school children. Iron folic acid supplementation will be most easy way out along with mid-day meal to root out anaemia in children and adolescents. Government should seriously consider that this mid-day meal scheme should be extended to school children upto 15 years. IMA strongly feels intervention early in childhood and adolescents is far more beneficial that intervention later.
IMA believes what Mahatma Gandhi once said, ?Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn'thave it in the beginning.? So, however difficult the problem may seem, lets not permit our problems to become our captain. We all should be the captains of our problems.
(The writer is Chairperson, Women Wing IMA.)