Anaemia not Linked to only Iron Deficiency, many Factors behind Spread: Says NIN Director

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The healthcare ecosystem in India has been disrupted due to COVID. However, some chronic health problems such as Anaemia is prevalent in India. With 51% of anaemic women, India tops the list of nations with the most anaemic women and children. To tackle anaemia, the GoI has started Anaemia Mukt Bharat in 2018, which aims to foster fresh strategies to eradicate anaemia.

To discuss various aspects of anaemia such as the challenge of anaemia accuracy in rural India and how Point of Care (PoC) and accurate data collection can help in winning the war against anaemia, an e-Summit – the episode-18 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series on ‘Strengthening Anaemia Detection and Diagnosis’ was organised by the HEAL Health and supported by HemoCue, a global pioneer in Point of Care (PoC) Hb testing and in knowledge partnership of the HEAL Foundation.

Elaborating on how Point of Care (PoC) devices and accurate data collection can help in winning the war against anaemia during e-Summit – the episode-18 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series, Dr J L Meena, Joint Director, National Health Authority (NHA) said, “National Digital Health Mission is more focused on tech-enabled devices and especially the Point of Care (PoC) device to prevent anaemia. We focus on all invasive technologies in testing and detection. As India is heading towards digitisation, the PoC programme will be useful. Prophylactic iron and deworming are also important aspects. Capacity building of medical staff and awareness amongst the masses is very important to achieve the target of Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB).”

Speaking on the testing ecosystem to fight anaemia during e-Summit – the episode-18 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series, Dr Hema Diwakar, Former President, Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India, (FOGSI) said, “Test, Treat and Talk – the TTT model is the key strategy to fight the war against anaemia. Healthcare and technology should go hand in hand with each other as testing is the only way to show the mirror. The Point of Care (PoC) testing is very important. We are bringing a lot of testing devices to fight against the pandemic. Food fortification awareness is also required to be inculcated in the masses.”

Speaking on different aspects of Anaemia during ‘Strengthening Anaemia Detection and Diagnosis’ e-Summit – the episode-18 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series, Dr Ajay Khera, (Former Commissioner, Mother & Child Health Programme, Ministry of Health) & currently Country Representative at EngenderHealth, India, said, “Anaemia is a huge problem as every alternate Woman and Child are Anaemic in India. Anaemia is a lifecycle problem because an anaemic mother produces an anaemic child and again the anaemic girl child becomes a mother and gives birth to another anaemic child and the lifecycle continues. As per National Nutrition Survey 30 to 50% anaemia is attributed to iron deficiency. Introducing iron-folic acid supplementation across the populations is required. And digital testing is also an important aspect.”

Throwing light on Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) during e-Summit – the episode-18 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series, Dr Hrishikesh Pai, President-Elect, Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India, (FOGSI) said, “To achieve the objective of Anaemia Mukt Bharat, integration is very important and the role of the government and the involvement of doctors is also equally important. For this, we need to form a council. A national advocacy council is required where all stakeholders need to come together to be counselled. We need to come together to help the government in the AMB campaign.”

Speaking on the importance of nutrition and iron deficiency during e-Summit – the episode-18 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series, Dr Hemalatha, Director, National Institute of Nutrition, ICMR said, “As per the international journal of nutrition, 32-33% children between the age group of 5-9 and adolescent girls are anaemic. Anaemia can’t alone be linked to iron deficiency as there are so many factors behind the same including lack of a balanced dietary regimen. Iron-rich fruits, micronutrient supplements are very useful. The incidence of anaemia in the rural area is higher. Tests followed by treatment will definitely help but making changes in dietary regimen is also important as a balanced diet plays a pivotal role.”

Moderating the episode-18 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series, Dr Swadeep Srivastava, Founder & CEO, HEAL Health said, “All the stakeholders need to come together to fight the war against anaemia in the country. Keeping in view the dire need to discuss the issue of detection and diagnosis of anaemia to rejuvenate the expedition of the GoI – Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB), we organised this e-Summit with the support of HemoCue. The role of technology is very important towards accomplishing the targets of Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB). Likewise, the role of accurate Point of Care (PoC) diagnosis and data can be pivotal in achieving Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) targets.”

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