When 18-year-old Anu (name changed) stood in a queue at Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College for a blood test, she had no idea that she would be detected with “severe” anaemia, which is risky, according to doctors. “I never thought I had anaemia. I did not feel any of its symptoms,” she said.
About 60% of female students in Delhi colleges are anaemic — well above the national average — according to an analysis of data collected from ongoing anaemia detection and awareness camps of the Delhi government accessed by The Hindu . The findings, which are yet to be made public, are based on tests on a total of 5,224 female students in 12 city colleges, of whom 3,128 (59.9%) were found to be anaemic.
The national average of anaemia among women between 15 and 49 years is 53% and in Delhi it’s 54.3%, according to National Family Health Survey-4.
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.
“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,” said Dr. Nitin Gupta, senior consultant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
The students found anaemic during the camps have been referred to nearest government hospitals for treatment. Also, the health department has asked all State government-run hospitals to make sure that students detected with “severe” anaemia are provided “out-of-queue treatment”.
‘IFA tablets for colleges’
State programme officer (adolescent health) Dr. Gautam Singh agreed that the percentage of women with anaemia is indeed very high. “We plan to extend distribution of IFA tablets to colleges,” he said.
During the camps, 94 of the 3,128 female students were detected with “severe” anaemia.