Weekly Iron Folic Acid Supplementation begins tomorrow

In a major initiative to address adolescent anaemia, the government is launching a Weekly Iron Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) Programme from Karnataka from Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters here on Monday, Anuradha Gupta, Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission, said supervised Iron-Folic Acid (IFA) would be administered, and sessions would be held in schools and Anganwadi centres to counsel adolescents and their care-givers on nutrition and related health issues.

WIFS, which is already being implemented in some States for pregnant and lactating mothers, will cover the population in the age group 10-19. The programme, to be implemented across the country in both rural and urban areas, will cover 13 crore adolescents — 6 crore girls and 7 crore boys — enrolled in classes VI-XII in government and aided schools, and 7 crore out-of-school adolescent girls.

Almost 50 per cent of nutritional deficiency-related anaemia is Iron Deficiency Anaemia which is a result of under-nutrition and poor dietary intake of iron, says Ms. Gupta. India has a high prevalence of adolescent anaemia with about 56 per cent girls and 30 per cent boys suffering from the condition. It is the underlying cause of 20-40 per cent maternal deaths.

Risks

Anaemia in adolescents results in poor physical growth, reduced school performance and diminished concentration in daily tasks. In adolescent girls, it enhances the risk of preterm delivery and of their having low birthweight babies who are not likely to reach the age of one. Young women in the age group 15-24 account for about one-third of all maternal deaths.

The key features of WIFS include administering supervised Weekly IFA supplements of 100 mg elemental iron and 500 mg folic acid; screening of target groups for moderate/severe anaemia and referring these cases to an appropriate health facility; bi-annual de-worming (Albendazole 400 mg), six months apart, for control of helminth (parasitic worm) infestation, and imparting information on improving dietary intake and prevention of intestinal worm infestation.

The Health and Family Welfare Ministry has suggested to the States that a day in a week, preferably Monday, be earmarked for providing IFA tablets to adolescents.


  • About 56 per cent girls, 30 per cent boys in India suffering from the condition

  • It is the underlying cause of 20-40 per cent maternal deaths