India launched an ambitious plan to give Iron Folic Acid supplements to its adolescent population to bring down incidents of adolescent anaemia. About 56% of girls and 30% of boys in the country suffer from anaemia leading to poor physical growth, reduced school performance which impacts their work capacity.
?It is a nationwide problem, not only among pregnant women, infants and you children, but also among adolescents,? revealed Mrs Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Mission Director of the ambitious National Rural Health Mission.
Anaemia in adolescent girls enhances risk of premature delivery and underweight babies and even pre-mature deaths. Anaemia in adolescent girls also increases the 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.
The weekly iron folic acid supplementation programme seeks to cover 13 crore adolescents ? 6 crore girls and boys enrolled in class VI to XII in government and government-aided schools and 7 crore out-of-school adolescent girls. The programme entails administration of 100 mg elemental iron and 500 mg folic acid, screening of target groups for anaemia and referring them to appropriate health facility and counseling for improving dietary intake.
The 135 crore scheme is the first of its kind national level, multi-sectoral, inter-ministerial convergence and likely to improve the health of India?s adolescents.