The Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) programme has been launched in the State.

The programme is a new initiative under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to address nutritional anaemia among adolescents which will mainly focus on students in government and government-aided schools from classes 6 to 12.

The prescription will include a regular dosage of iron folic tablets (once a week, ideally 52 tablets a year).

The programme is being jointly operated through the Directorate of Health Services, the Department of Women and Child Development, and the Directorate of Education.

Goa Health Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, who launched the programme in Pernum taluk of north Goa on Thursday, disclosed that 21,515 students would be covered under the programme in Goa.

‘Critical problem’

Health officials say anaemia is a critical public health problem. As for schoolchildren, the problem limits the development, learning ability, reduces concentration in daily tasks, increases school dropout rates, reduces physical fitness and work productivity. Anaemia in girls during pregnancy is associated with premature births, low birth weight, and infant and maternal mortality.