The State has received over 2.7 crore Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) tablets from the Centre which would be administered to children in the age bracket of 5-10 years in a bid to improve the health of anaemic children, who according to researchers, might show severer symptoms of Covid-19.
As many as 2,76,33,170 IFA tablets will be distributed among Community Health Centres (CHCs) for running the programme across the 24 districts of Jharkhand, where more than 43 per cent of children are anaemic and more likely to have a weaker immune system, health officials said.
A letter issued by the Health Department on Saturday directed all the districts to collect the pink IFA tablets from the state vaccine storehouse and distribute them among the CHCs by June 30.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), if the prevalence of anaemia in a population is 40 per cent or higher it is categorized as a severe public health problem. In Jharkhand, around 70 per cent of children in the age bracket of 6-59 months, 62.6 per cent of pregnant women and 65.2 per cent of women in the reproductive age are anaemic, highlights NFHS 4.
Last month, Chief Minister Hemant Soren had also raised concern over the high percentage of anaemic children in the State and the devastating effect a possible third wave of Covid-19 could have on them. Talking to doctors, the CM sought suggestions on treating Covid-19 patients who were already battling anaemia.
“It is a major concern for us that 43 per cent of children in our state are anaemic. We need to be extremely cautious and make all possible arrangements to tackle a third wave of Covid-19,” Soren said.
According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), Anaemia is a condition that is marked by low levels of haemoglobin in the blood. Iron deficiency is estimated to be responsible for about half of all anaemia globally, but anaemia can also be caused by malaria, hookworm and other helminths, other nutritional deficiencies, chronic infections, and genetic conditions. Anaemia can result in maternal mortality, weakness, diminished physical and mental capacity and increased morbidity from infectious diseases, the NFHS states in its latest report.
The campaign against anaemia will run simultaneously with vaccination drive against Covid-19 in the rural areas of the state, health officials said. The State on Saturday also received 1,92,320 Covishield doses for beneficiaries above the age of 18 years and 89,990 Covishield doses for beneficiaries above the age of 45 years.