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60% girls in Delhi colleges anaemic

60% girls in Delhi colleges anaemic

Tag: GS 2|| Governance & Social Justice|| Human Development || Health

Why In News?

  • According to an analysis of data collected from ongoing anaemia detection and awareness camps of the Delhi government, about 60% of female students in Delhi colleges are anaemic, well above the national average.


  • Anaemia can cause weakness, breathlessness, lack of concentration and if the haemoglobin level falls quickly over a few days, it can even lead to cardiac failure.
  • Anaemia is a condition in which a person has a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or quantity of haemoglobin, which reduces the capacity of their blood to carry oxygen and can lead to a number of health problems, and even death.
  • It is considered a severe public health problem if more than 40% of the population is diagnosed with anaemia.
  • Men with haemoglobin levels of less than 13.0 grams (g) per decilitre (dL) are considered anaemic, as per World Health Organization norms. Women with levels lower than 12.0 g/dL are considered anaemic if they are not pregnant. Among pregnant women, levels lower than 11.0 g/dL signal


  • Anaemia in women and children has been a major problem in India for half a century.
  • According to National Family Health Survey-4, the national average of anaemia among women between 15 and 49 years is 53% and in Delhi it’s 54.3%.
  • While the national average came down from 55.3% to 53% between NFHS-3 and NFHS-4, it rose from 44.3% to 55.3% in Delhi.
  • Just over half (51%) of Indian women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years) are anaemic, according to the just-released Global Nutrition Report 2017.
  • Low haemoglobin levels lower productivity and cause illness and death, and thus impose an economic cost.
  • The loss of gross domestic product to anaemia was estimated at $22.64 billion (Rs 1.50 lakh crore) in 2016, more than three times the health budget for 2017-18.


  • Nutritional deficiency is by far the most common cause of anaemia worldwide.
  • Nearly half the cases of nutritional deficiency-related anaemia in India are caused by consuming too little iron.
  • Inadequate intake of the vitamins B9 (folate) and B12 is also a frequent cause.
  • The state programme officer of Delhi said that the distribution of IFA tablets would be extended to colleges.

Steps taken by the government:

  • The government is putting in place dedicated, preventive and promotive strategies to make India anaemia-free.
  • A flagship programme to address anaemia in women and children was introduced as far back as 1970, the National Anaemia Prophylaxis Programme, concentrated on distributing iron and folic acid tablets among two vulnerable population segments–pregnant women, and children aged 1 to 5 years.
  • In 1991, the flagship programme was renamed National Nutritional Anaemia Control Programme and made part of the National Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme, which attempts to cater to the overall needs of mothers and children pertaining to health and disease.
  • Yet more than half the targeted population remained anaemic in 2015.
  • Anaemia Mukt Bharat(AMB) was launched in the year 2018 as part of Intensified National Iron Plus Initiative (NIPI) Program for accelerating the annual rate of decline of anaemia from one to three percentage points.
  • The target groups for AMB are Children 6-59 months, 5-9 years, Adolescent Girls & Boys of 10-19 years, Women of Reproductive Age (15-49 years), Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers.
  • Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) program includes supervised weekly ingestion of Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablet.
  • To control worm infestation biannual deworming with Albendazole is
  • Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)has been launched to focus on conducting special ANC check up on 9th of every month with the help of Medical officers/ OBGYN to detect and treat cases of anaemia.

 Why Anaemia still persists?

  • Low political commitment is one of the major reasons. Anaemia has not been taken as seriously as we should have.
  • Interventions that look at possible means to enhance the dietary intake of iron such as food fortification in addition to iron and folic acid tablets have not been implemented.
  • The supplements failed to reach all the intended beneficiaries in adequate amounts, and not all beneficiaries who received the supplements actually ingested them.
  • Iron-folic acid supplements are meant to be distributed under the National Nutritional Anaemia Control Programme and the Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFAS) programme, an initiative introduced in 2013 to reduce adolescent anaemia, estimated to affect more than half of all adolescent girls and just under one in three adolescent boys.
  • Fewer than one in three pregnant women have access to iron and folic acid supplements, according to NFHS-IV, even after the percentage of women consuming these supplements during pregnancy doubled between 2005-06 and 2015-16, from 15% to 30%.

Way forward:

  • The programme as merely a preventive intervention given India’s high rates of malnutrition and maternal mortality. India has to continue to need an all-out effort against anaemia to prevent as well as manage it.
  • To better target anaemia prevention and treatment, a pan-India survey of 100,000 children and adolescents was conducted to check for vitamin B12 deficiency and worm infestation.
  • A parasitic infestation can cause malabsorption of essential nutrients, which, in turn, can cause anaemia, which is why de-worming tablets are also distributed under the existing iron and folic acid supplementation programmes.
  • To improve the coverage of the WIFAS programme for adolescents, there are plans to use the Mid-Day Meal programme software that requires schools to update the number of beneficiaries every week.
  • Efforts to improve supply to women have been on since the launch of the National Iron Plus programme in 2013, under which the government provides supplements to all women of reproductive age irrespective of their haemoglobin levels and pregnancy status, unlike earlier initiatives. What needs more emphasis is improved consumption.
  • Creating awareness is particularly vital because anaemia can go undetected until it becomes severe.
  • Greater awareness can boost community-wide demand for supplements, compelling wider distribution.

Additional Info

Mains  Question

What are the Steps taken by the government in prevent Anaemia?