A 45-day campaign is underway in Punjab to end anaemia, one of the state’s major public health threats.
The District Level Health Survey for the 2012-13 period registered a prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women in Punjab of 58 percent and adolescents (those aged fifteen to nineteen years) of 43 percent. Severe anaemia affected five percent of pregnant women and three percent of adolescents. Since then, the problem seems to have worsened: it was reported last year that anaemia rates among women in the state had increased from 38 percent in the 2005-06 period to 53.5 percent in the 2015-16 period.
This provides a clear impetus for the recently announced campaign, which will target pregnant women, lactating mothers, and adolescent girls. Under the initiative, haemoglobin testing and, if necessary, treatment for anaemia will be offered at publicly-run facilities. On the first day of the campaign, which was launched in the Mohali district, haemoglobin testing camps were set up in multiple government hospitals which a number of girls and women reportedly utilised.
Anaemia is a common health problem in India and can cause health complications including cardiac issues due to the strain placed on the heart. Its underlying cause is a decline in the number of red blood cells, which reduces the blood’s capacity to transport oxygen around the body and result in symptoms such as fatigue.
Across India, the prevalence of anaemia among children stands at 59.7 percent and among women of reproductive age (those between fifteen and 49 years), it stands at 54.4 percent. Anaemia during pregnancy can increase the risk of a child being born underweight, which affects 21.4 percent of newborns. This makes campaigns such as that which has been undertaken in Punjab a boon for the health of both women affected by anaemia and children and could go some way towards improving nutritional indicators.