Priyanka Chopra’s Heart Bleeds for Adolescent Anemia

As UNICEF Ambassador, Piggy Chop boosts fight against anemia

Priyanka Chopra’s Heart Bleeds for Adolescent Anemia

New Delhi, August 13: Priyanka Chopra’s heart goes out to anemia afflicted adolescents of the country. The Bollywood actor came forward to give a Philip to campaign to end anemia on World Youth Day.

A press release sent to Meditoall said UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra underlined anemia as a major health problem among adolescents in India. She emphasized the importance of stepping up the fight against adolescent anemia as countries progress hinges on them.

‘One out of two young girls and one out of three young boys in India are anemic. Anemia is a serious health problem not only in rural but also in the urban areas. Anemia can be prevented by taking iron-rich diet, Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) tablets once a week and deworming tablets every six months. It is really that simple,” Priyanka said addressing the youth from across the county in Hyderabad yesterday. She released a short film regarding this to mark the World Youth Day.

The film highlights the importance of the Government of India’s Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) program me for adolescents. The program me was launched in 2012 to reduce severity and prevalence of nutritional anemia in adolescents between 15 and 19 years. As many as 56 per cent girls and 30 per cent boys in this age group in India are anemic, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 3 data. This group comprises one-fourth of India’s population and is a key driver of its future economic growth.

Dr. Sushma Dureja, Deputy Commissioner, Adolescent Health, said, ‘The target for WIFS program me are adolescent girls and boys in government, government aided and municipal schools, between classes 6 and 12 along with out of school adolescent girls . The aim is to improve the iron stores in the adolescent population thereby addressing the problem of anemia caused by nutritional deficiency.’

The WIFS program me, which also covers out-of-school adolescent girls through Anganwadi centers, uses a proven and highly effective solution of providing (free of cost) weekly supplementation of deworming tablets, along with screening and counseling services.

The program me has four components namely, supervised ingestion of weekly iron and folic acid tablet, screening for moderate or severe anemia and referral to nearest health facility,  deworming treatment every six months and nutrition and health education to encourage consumption of locally available iron-rich food and preventing parasitic infections.

Research shows that after the first year of life, adolescence is the second highest growth spurt period. Adolescents, if given the right nutrition, gain up to 50 per cent of their adult weight, more than 20 percent of their adult height, and 50 percent of their adult bone mass during this period.

Lack of iron in diets, perpetuates the inter-generational cycle of anemia whereby anemic women give birth to children with low body iron stores, resulting in irreversible consequences on children’s health and development.

Worldwide, it is estimated that about 20 per cent of maternal deaths are caused by anemia; in addition, anemia contributes partly to 50 per cent of all maternal deaths.

* The prevalence of anemia (Hemoglobin value of <12 g% in girls and Hemoglobin value of < 13g% in boys) is high amongst adolescents in India as per the report of NFHS-III and the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau Survey.