Nutritional supplements that are distributed among pregnant women, nursing mothers and adolescent girls under a central scheme are not consumed by a large number of beneficiaries in Madhya Pradesh because of various misconceptions.
BN Chouhan, director, planning and development, National Health Mission, said that supplements are reaching about 85% of the targeted beneficiaries in MP, but only 23% of them are consuming it. A majority of women in the state, he said, are suffering from anaemia despite the government spending crores of rupees on their supplement diet.
A survey on the Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) programme was also conducted in Morena and Ujjain districts earlier this year, whose results were announced recently.
The survey revealed that about 98% adolescents, pregnant women and lactating mothers in these two districts were anaemic.
Prevailing dietary misconceptions, such as overeating is harmful and iron supplements may affect the baby’s complexion, are responsible for their non-consumption. Various social and cultural factors, such as early marriage, adolescent pregnancy and repeated pregnancies, also make girls more vulnerable to iron deficiency and anaemia, the survey found.
The Union ministry of health and family welfare and Micronutrient Initiative, a global body, are conducting this survey in several states of India where malnutrition rate is high.
The survey in the rest of Madhya Pradesh is still going on. The ministry is trying to reach out to more than 13 crore school-going girls (Class 6-12) and out-of-school adolescent girls through this programme.
Swastika Chakraborty, the state head of Auriga consultancy, the agency conducting the survey in MP, told HT: “During the survey we found that dietary supplements and calcium tablets are reaching the aganwadis but women are not aware of them. In some cases the aganwadi workers, ASHA and ANMs themselves did not know what the supplements are for.”
As many as 52.1% of women were unaware of the need of additional dietary demand during gestation and lactation, the survey found.
“The WIFS programme targets both rural and urban areas. The programme provides a strategic focus on reducing adolescent anaemia. It also promotes improved pregnancy outcomes and improves nutritional level of both mother and the infant,” said Dr V Kiran Gopal, mission director, National Health Mission, Madhya Pradesh.
Gopal also said the first step towards addressing iron deficiency would be proper implementation and scaling up of Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) supplementation programme and management of all forms of iron deficiency anaemia.
The Government of India implemented the WIFS programme in January 2013, under the National Health Mission, in government and municipal schools and anganwadi centres across India.