Anaemia continues to be a major concern among Indian women and children: Health expert

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 21, 2020

Anaemia Mukt Bharat aims to foster new strategies for tackling anemia

HEAL Foundation, an Indian non-profit organisation, held Unite to Eradicate Anemia E-Summit 2020 – the Episode-13 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series – to discuss the prospects of an anaemia-free India.

The summit was organised to discuss the challenges faced by a developing nation to tackle anaemia and prospective solutions to those challenges. The summit also included discussions on how accurate Point of Care (PoC) diagnosis and data can be the game-changer for Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB).

This comes as according to the 5th National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data, released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India has the highest total prevalence of anaemia at 39.86 per cent in the world. NFHS-5 data also suggested that more than half of the children and women are anaemic in 13 of the 22 States/UTs in the country.

Anaemia Mukt Bharat

This has also prompted the Government of India to initiate Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB), which aims to strengthen the existing mechanisms and foster newer strategies for tackling anemia.

Deliberating on how accurate Point of Care (PoC) diagnosis and data can be the game-changer, Dr JL Meena, Joint Director, National Health Authority (NHA), GoI, said in an official statement: “Test is the best option for the prevention of anemia. First, screening, prevention and then treatment. Screening should be qualitative because it ensures the actual status. For this, the role of Point of Care (PoC) is very important.

She added: “Screening for anaemia needs serious consideration as per protocols in the public and private sector. Quality control is also very important in this direction. Treatment for Anaemia is also there in AYUSHMAN Bharat.”

Why States need strategies to address anaemic condition in women

Speaking on the ongoing status of Anaemia Mukt Bharat GoI’ flagship program, Dr Kapil Yadav, Additional Professor & Nodal Person, National Centre of Excellence and Advanced Research on Anemia Control (NCEAR-A), Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, said: “NFHS-5 data show anaemia continues to be a major concern among women and children.”

Yadav added: “(However) we have made remarkable progress in 2.5 years as there has been a paradigm shift in anaemia point of care diagnostic tests. Digital Haemoglobin meters have lots of scopes and are widely used for testing with increased demand. Three things – Point of care (Diagnostics), Food fortification, and the parenteral (non-oral means of administration) iron for moderate to severe anaemia are the key to achieve AMB targets.”

‘Role of technology important’

While speaking at the summit, Urvashi Prasad, Public Policy Specialist, NITI Aayog, said: “The role of technology is very important towards accomplishing the targets of Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB), it needs to be scaled up. We must continue to focus on technology. In order to achieve the targets, data integration is a must. Once data integration is done, then digitise the fragmented data...Digital hemoglobin meters are being widely used for testing. And that will increase.”

New hope for treating inflammation-induced anaemia

The reduction of anaemia is one of the key objectives of the POSHAN Abhiyaan launched in March 2018 by the Centre.

Complying with the targets of POSHAN Abhiyaan and the National Nutrition Strategy set by NITI Aayog, the AMB strategy has been designed to reduce the prevalence of anaemia by 3 percentage points per year among children, adolescents, and women in the reproductive age group (15–49 years), between the year 2018 and 2022.

Published on December 21, 2020

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