The Union ministry of health and family welfare on Monday defended its weekly iron and folic acid supplementation (WIFS) programme that was launched in Delhi schools on July 15.
More than 200 schoolchildren had fallen sick after consuming iron and folic acid tablets given to students to combat anaemia among adolescents.
“There is nothing to create panic about iron tablets. Only 0.1% adolescents show mild non-serious symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and restlessness. A child can show these symptoms only if he/she has prior symptoms of gastritis or if the tablets are taken on empty stomach. It is a safe supplementation,” said Anuradha Gupta, mission director, National Rural Health Mission.
A ministry official on the sidelines of a press meet said the programme would be launched in Rajasthan this month and in Assam next month. Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Manipur are in the process of launching the programme soon.
In Delhi, 18 lakh adolescents were given iron and folic acid tablets on July 17, after which 200 developed symptoms of stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
“A certain protocol is maintained to administer IFA tablets and teachers are sanitised before they give the tablets to children. Anaemia is taking epidemic proportions in our country, hence such a programme should not be derailed. That few children will show mild symptoms was not unexpected,” she added.
Anaemia can be treated using iron supplementation, balanced diet that includes right types and amounts of food and drinks to supply nutrition and energy, regular de-worming to control infestations, and proper breast feeding to infants and complementary feeding to young child.