National

Govt. to launch iron folic acid supplementation programme on July 17

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, July 15, 2013

The Weekly Iron Folic Acid (IFA) Supplementation Programme for Adolescents will be launched on July 17 to address the high prevalence of adolescent anaemia in the country.
Talking to newspersons here, Ms Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), said that about 56 per cent girls and 30 per cent boys suffer from anaemia.
Anaemia occurs primarily due to nutritional deficiency of essential micronutrients. It is the most widespread nutritional disorder in the country today.
Almost 50 per cent of nutritional deficiency related anaemia is Iron Deficiency Anaemia. It is a result of under-nutrition and poor dietary intake of iron. It is a nationwide problem, not only among pregnant women, infants and young children but also among adolescents.
Anaemia in adolescent results in poor physical growth, reduced school performance and diminished concentration in daily tasks, thus impacting work capacity and work output resulting in diminished earning capacity. Anaemia in adolescent girls enhances risk of preterm delivery and having babies with low birth weight. These babies are more likely to be ill and not reach the age of one year. Anaemia in adolescent girls also increases their risk of maternal deaths.
About 1/3rd of all maternal deaths take place in young women in the age group of 15 to 24 years.
Ms Gupta said addressing anaemia is critical for ensuring good health of children and adults and also of the future generation. For this reason, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has developed the Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) programme that addresses this enormous public health challenge.
According to her, it is a unique initiative under which supervised IFA supplementation is being done. Sessions on Nutrition and Health Education are planned at the schools and Anganwadi centres to inform and counsel adolescents and their care givers on nutrition and related health issues.
WIFS covers adolescent population in the age group of 10 to 19 years. The programme, implemented across the country, will cover 13 crore adolescents – 6 crore girls and boys enrolled in class VI-XII of government and government aided school and 7 crore out-of-school adolescent girls in rural and urban areas.
The Health Ministry has suggested to the states that a fixed day in a week, preferably Monday, be earmarked as the day when IFA tablet is provided to adolescents. The key features of WIFS are:- (1) Administration of supervised Weekly Iron Folic Acid Supplements of 100mg elemental iron and 500mg folic acid; (2) Screening of target groups for moderate/severe anaemia and referring these cases to an appropriate health facility; (3) Biannual de-working (Albendazole 400mg), six months apart, for control of helminthic infestation and (4) Information and counselling for improving dietary intake and for taking actions for prevention of intestinal worm infestation.
Ms Gupta said the programme will serve as an entry point for counselling adolescents and addressing their health and nutrition needs through programmes and platforms like Ministry of Women and Child Development’s Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and SABLA and MOHFW’s Adolescent Health Programmes.
WIFS has also facilitated convergence at national, state, district, block level through the WIFS Advisory Committees bringing together key stakeholder ministries like the Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The main areas of convergence are joint programme planning, capacity building, monitoring and comprehensive communication component.
Joint capacity building involving service providers (Medical Officers, Sabla coordinators, Anganwadi Worker (AWW) Staff Nurses, School teachers) of stakeholder ministries like the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Human Resource Development has been undertaken.
"This scheme is a first of its kind unique example of national level multi-sectoral, inter-ministerial convergence and likely to yield rich programmatic dividends in terms of improved health outcomes for all. Rs.135 crore has been allocated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for this programme during 2012-13," Ms Gupta added.
NNN

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