Amid increasing number of anaemia cases in the state, the Haryana health department has decided to revive its programme to provide food supplements to school children.
About 16 lakh students studying in government schools and government-aided schools will be covered under the Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplement (WIFS) scheme.
“Our target is to distribute the supplement to 16,30,000 students across the state. For those children who aren’t attending schools, the medicine will be made available by doctors of all primary health centres and anganwadi workers,” said Dr Aruna Sangwan, deputy civil surgeon.
Anaemia is a condition where the haemoglobin content in blood drops below 12 grams.
Presiding over a presentation on the issue, Gurgaon civil surgeon Dr BK Rajora highlighted the need to give iron and folic acid tablets to adolescent children. “Iron tablets are not harmful. Rather, they help in overcoming anaemia. Half of the anemia cases are a result of iron deficiency,” he said.
The supplement will be made available to children studying in Class 6 to 12. The programme had been discontinued earlier due to shoddy planning which led to severe side-effects — complaints of giddiness — among girls in Fatehabad.
Nearly 10 students of a government school had fallen ill due to improper consumption of the supplement. “We have realised our mistake. This time we are making all parents and teachers aware of the method of consuming the supplement,” added Sangwan.
According to doctors, iron tablets should be taken only after eating solid food. Otherwise, one may suffer from giddiness or nausea.
In Haryana, 71 per cent of the population is anaemic, out of which 21.8 per cent are adolescents. Lactating mothers and women in the reproductive age group are also vulnerable to iron deficiency.