The department of health, medical education and family welfare rolled out an action plan to provide micro-nutrients to pregnant and lactating women, infants and children to reduce the prevalence of anemia in the state. The plan is taken up as part of the Center’s Anemia Mukt Bharat program. Under the program, an estimate of annual requirement for iron folic acid (IFA), calcium and albendazole tablets will be made after which their procurement and distribution will be streamlined. Monitoring and reporting of the micro-nutrients administered apart from capacity-building of the health personnel involved in administering the drugs to the beneficiaries will also be conducted, the department said. “As per the National Health and Family Survey (NHFS)-IV, 69 percent of Jharkhand’s pregnant women received IFA tablets while only 15 percent consumed them. Among children, only 6.3 percent of the infants were administered pediatric IFA. The coverage of vitamin A among children below five years was around 53 percent,” IPE Global, partnering agency of the state government for the action plan, said in a statement. In the first phase of the program, auxiliary nurse midwives, anganwadi sevikas and Asha workers will prepare a list of pregnant, lactating women and infants at village and block levels in the first few months of a year and update it every month.
A state-level beneficiary list will be formed, and the department will procure IFA tablets according to the list once every six months. “IFA red tablets, calcium and albendazole for pregnant women, IFA syrup, IFA pink, vitamin A and albendazole for children (above five years) and IFA blue and albendazole for adolescents (up to five years) will be delivered till the block level every three months so that these drugs are in stock round the year,” an official involved with the program said. Under Center’s guidelines, pregnant and lactating women without anemia need to consume 180 IFA tablets in a year while women with mild or moderate anemia, who make up for 60 percent of the pregnant women in Jharkhand, are required to consume 360 tablets in one year. Speaking after the launch, health secretary Nitin Madan Kulkarni said: “Over 60 percent of the children in Jharkhand are not getting proper nourishment, which is affecting their normal mental development. They are also not getting medicines and supplements on time. This program will help them recover from anemia.” Officers in the department said pregnant women coming to ante-natal care centers were only 50 percent of the total pregnant and lactating women across the state. – TOI