Haemoglobin level of many college-goers found to be below the required level.

The poor health of college-going girls in Madurai city is coming to light during blood donation camps. At least, 40 per cent of college girls get ‘rejected’ by doctors in blood donation camps even though they come forward to do so along with their friends. The reason for rejecting their blood is the low haemoglobin level in blood which actually should be minimum 12 grams. Organisers of blood donation camps in city colleges say that the 40 per cent rejection rate is a conservative estimate since the haemoglobin level is checked only for those girls who come to the camps.

“It is really shocking to see that several college girls in and around Madurai are weak. As a result, the number of blood donors among girls is very less. From January to November this year, we had only 1,185 girls who donated blood in colleges and the rejection rate is indeed high,” Prabha Samiraj, Medical Officer, Government Rajaji Hospital Blood Bank, told The Hindu on Friday.

The numbers are more disturbing in Government Sri Meenakshi College for Women where girls from economically backward classes are studying.

“This college needs special attention because the highest rejection happens there due to malnutrition and poverty conditions at home,” she says.

Startling figures about the malnutrition levels among college girls in the city have come from the Indian Red Cross Society’s Madurai Branch which spearheads voluntary blood donation.

“In a free haemoglobin test done for girls during a recent exhibition, we were shocked to note that 85 per cent of them had haemoglobin level of less than nine grams. The dieting culture is proving to be deadly for them. To remain slim, they are avoiding rich food,” said V. M. Jose, Red Cross district secretary.

T. Jayabalan, NSS coordinator of Yadava College and R.Gopi, NSS officer of Madura College, too are concerned over the underweight condition of college girls. “During meetings, we tell them to eat nutritious food. Because of poor weight, several girls get rejected in camps,” says Mr.Gopi.

Avoiding breakfast in the mornings and absence of iron rich food are leading the girls to a vulnerable health condition, according to Mr. Jayabalan.

The popular ‘Kadalai mittai’ is highly recommended for girls to have good haemoglobin level in their blood.

What to eat?

Revathy Janakiraman, a retired Director of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Egmore in Chennai, cautions school and college girls to inculcate good nutritional habits.

“It is sad that our girls these days are not eating fruits and vegetables. The iron content in food is missing and it will lead to complications during pregnancy/delivery time at a later stage,” she warned.

Dr. Revathy, who played active role in the Madurai Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society through ‘Hb 12x12’ initiative, says that the blood loss that happens during the menstrual process should be compensated. College girls were advised to eat plenty of greens/ vegetables and dates.

“I myself had conducted a camp in Melur sometime ago where it was found that 70 per cent of teenage girls were anaemic. The haemoglobin level was as low as four grams,” she lamented. Parents must ensure that their girl child’s haemoglobin is 12 gms by the age of 12 years and it should be maintained throughout. Worms’ infestation is another aspect that must be looked in to.

The gynaecologist says that if a girl has 11 grams of haemoglobin in blood, she is considered anaemic. An appeal from experts is that school and college girls should not avoid milk, vegetables, fruits, ‘keerai’, egg and dates for the sake of dieting.

So, if a girl college wants to donate blood, her eligibility criteria will be above 18 years of age, 12 gms of haemoglobin and minimum 45 kilo bodyweight.

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