In an attempt to combat anaemia among children, all those between 10 and 18 years of age and studying in state government, MCD, NDMC and Delhi Cantonment board schools will be given iron and folic acid tablets from July 15.
The move is part of Delhi government's Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) programme.
More than 70% schoolgoing children in the national Capital were found to be anaemic by the Delhi government's health department after screening 26,411 school children last year. Iron deficiency among adolescents affects attentiveness, memory, physical growth and capacity, immune status and illness from infections.
The Directorate of Health Services, Delhi Government, has trained principals of government schools in administering the iron supplements, "More than a lakh tablets have been procured that will be given once a week to the children and also to some teachers, who are anaemic under Chacha Nehru Sehat Yojna," said Dr N V Kamat, DHS.
"We have launched the WIFS programme in 24 states across the country. WIFS efficacy research trials were first launched in Delhi and Mumbai in 1996 with UNICEF support. We officially initiated the programme in 2000 covering 20 districts across five states. Delhi will be launching it on July 15, followed by Karnataka on July 17 and Rajasthan in the third week of July. We've also received reports of anemia from north-eastern states and the programme will be launched in Assam soon," said Dr Sushma Dureja, Deputy Commissioner, Adolescent Health, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, during a workshop in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
According to a NFHS-3 report, 56% girls and 30% boys in the age group 15-19 years in India suffer from anemia. This means one out of two young girls and one out of three young boys are anaemic.
But soem experts said of the total number of students administered with the IFA tablets under the programme, 0.5% have been affected by the side-effects of the medicines. "The percentage is minuscule compared to the total number of students who took the tablets. There could be several reasons for the side-effects - body absorption capacity of iron is less, taking the medicine on an empty-stomach, chewing the tablets and taking the medicines with milk," said Dr Rakesh Gupta, Mission Director (NRHM) & Director, Adolescent Health, Government of Haryana.