43 per cent of children have poor immunity putting them vulnerable to Covid-19 third wave
Ranchi, June 19: Jamshedpur will be getting over 11 lakh iron and folic acid (IFA) tablets commonly known as pink tablets under the Anaemia Mukt Bharat (Anaemia Free India) scheme in a bid to improve the health of anaemic children, who according to paediatricians and epidemiologists, might show severe symptoms of Covid-19 in the predicted third wave of the pandemic.
Incidentally, as per data shared by the state health department more than 43% children of state have low haemoglobin count and hence poor immunity, this leaves them vulnerable to Covid-19.
The Jharkhand government has received over 2.7 crore IFA tablets from the Union health ministry which would be administered to children between five to 9 years under the scheme. The civil surgeons of respective districts have been asked to ensure that tablets are taken from the state vaccination storeroom before June 30 and ensure for speedy distribution of tablets amongst targeted beneficiaries.
As many as 2,76,33,170 pink IFA tablets will be distributed among community health centres (CHCs) for running the programme across the 24 districts of the tribal state, where more than 43 per cent of children are anaemic and therefore more likely to have a weaker immune system, health officials said on Saturday.
“The pink IFA tablets will be administered to children across the state as a part of the Anaemia Mukt Bharat campaign, which has been running since several years to combat anaemia and malnutrition among children,” said the nodal officer of the state health department IEC wing Siddharth Tripathi.
Significantly, 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.
In East Singhbhum district, Jamshedpur urban has been allocated 3,85,570 tablets while Baharagora block 98,080 tablets. The other blocks allocation of tablets figures are Chakulia (84630), Dhalbhumgarh (42,740), Dumaria (47,470), Ghatshila (64,380), Mosaboni (64,480), Patamda (70,120), Bodam (56,130), Ghurabandha (34,820) and Potka (1,51,630).
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.
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. According to NFHS, anaemia is more prevalent in rural areas of Jharkhand and among tribal women, women with no schooling and their children.
The campaign against anaemia will run simultaneously with vaccination drive against Covid-19 in the rural areas, health officials said.