More than 43% children of state have low haemoglobin count and hence poor immunity, thisleaves them vulnerable to Covid-19
The Jharkhand government has received over 2.7 crore iron and folic acid (IFA) tablets from the Centre which would be administered to children between five to 10 years under Anaemia Mukt Bharat scheme in a bid to improve the health of anaemic children, who according to researchers, might show severe symptoms of Covid-19 if infected.
As many as 2,76,33,170 pink IFA tablets will be distributed among community health centres (CHCs) for running the programme across the 24 districts of the tribal state, where more than 43 per cent of children are anaemic and therefore more likely to have a weaker immune system, health officials said on Saturday.
“The pink IFA tablets will be administered to children across the state as a part of the Anaemia Mukt Bharat campaign, which has been running since several years to combat anaemia and malnutrition among children,” said Dr. Siddharth Tripathi, the nodal officer of health department’s Information, Education and Communication (IEC) wing.
According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS), anaemia is a condition that is marked by low levels of haemoglobin in the blood. Iron deficiency is estimated to be responsible for about half of all anaemia globally, but anaemia can also be caused by malaria, hookworm and other helminths, other nutritional deficiencies, chronic infections, and genetic conditions. Anaemia can result in maternal mortality, weakness, diminished physical and mental capacity and increased morbidity from infectious diseases, the NFHS states in its latest report.
Last month, Chief Minister Hemant Soren had also raised concern over the high percentage of anaemic children in the state and the devastating effect a possible third wave of Covid-19 could have on them. Talking to doctors, he sought suggestions on treating anaemic Covid-19 patients.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), if the prevalence of anaemia in a population is 40 per cent or higher it is categorized as a severe public health problem. In Jharkhand, around 70 per cent of children in the age bracket of 6-59 months, 62.6 per cent of pregnant women and 65.2 per cent of women in the reproductive age are anaemic. According to NFHS, anaemia is more prevalent in rural areas of Jharkhand and among tribal women, women with no schooling and their children.
The campaign against anaemia will run simultaneously with vaccination drive against Covid-19 in the rural areas, health officials said. The state on Saturday also received 1,92,320 Covishield doses for beneficiaries above the age of 18 years and 89,990 Covishield doses for beneficiaries above the age of 45 years.