Mumbai: 2% women aged 18 and above severely anaemic

State health department screened over 4cr women for various health indicators; 7.34lakh found to be severely anaemic; low haemoglobin count linked to adverse physical and reproductive outcomes

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Tuesday, November 29, 2022, 02:38 AM IST
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Mumbai: Nearly 2% women aged 18 and above in Maharashtra are severely anaemic. The State Health Department screened 4.01 crore women under the ‘Mata Surakshit Tar Ghar Surakshit’ programme wherein 7.34 lakh women (1.8%) were diagnosed with high iron deficiencies. The national average for severe anaemia among women is 2.2%.

Senior health officials said all those diagnosed with chronic deficiency would be screened further for severity to decide on appropriate treatment.

Anaemia is associated with poor cognitive and motor development in children and work capacity in adults, impacting the country’s economic development.

The survey started on Sep 26 across Maharashtra and 4,01,86,717 women aged 18 and above were tested on various health indicators; 7,34,679 were diagnosed with severe anaemia. Among pregnant women, iron deficiency anaemia is also associated with adverse reproductive outcomes such as preterm delivery, low-birth-weight infants, and decreased iron stores for the baby, which may lead to impaired development.

The Free Press Journal spoke to a few general physicians, who said that iron deficiency causes red blood cells (RBC) to reduce in size, while they increase in size due to B12 deficiency. One doctor said that organs can be affected in different ways due to anaemia, so a healthy balanced diet is important.

The general symptoms of anaemia are fatigue, exertion, inability to concentrate, swelling of feet, giddiness and irritability. This not only affects personal life but reduces work productivity. In case of low iron and low haemoglobin, one may suffer from breathlessness during Covid infection.

For a woman to be diagnosed with severe anaemia, the range is less than 8g/dl (grams per decilitre) for non-pregnant women and less than 7g/dl for pregnant women. Assistant Director at the Family Welfare and Planning department, Dr Aniruddha Deshpande, who is monitoring this programme, said, “Usually pregnant women test positive for anaemia, but this is the first time screening for women above 18 years has been conducted.”

In India, women with anaemia go unseen. Menstruating girls and women are more deficient due to monthly blood loss. A more severe form of anaemia is characterised by a behaviour called pica wherein children have the tendency to eat dirt, clay and other unusual substances. This is not a harmful behaviour and disappears once anaemia is cured.
A doctor pointed to several causative factors like worm infection, severe malaria, discharge of blood via urine or stool, excess bleeding during periods and also improper diet. “Depending on the root cause, treatment would be prescribed,” said a doctor who is part of the survey.

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