The Madhya Pradesh government’s ‘Miss Haemoglobin’ title is becoming as popular among rural girls of Indore as Miss India-like pageants are among their urban counterparts, thanks to the Women and Child Development (WCD) department’s unique initiative to combat iron deficiency.
The “most beautiful” here are the girls who show a marked improvement in their haemoglobin levels within six months of prescribed dietary care and medicinal discipline. The WCD had recently crowned 85 out of 2,062 girls aged between 11 and 18 Miss Haemoglobin. They were drawn from four rural sectors – Mhow, Harsola, Simrol and Choral.
2,062 teenage girls out of 3,657 have shown positive results with improved level of haemoglobin
The department had started the contest a year ago under SABLA scheme (under Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, a centrally sponsored programme of the Government of India) with an aim to eradicate anaemia in adolescent girls in rural areas. So far 2,062 teenage girls out of 3,657 have shown positive results with improved level of haemoglobin.
However, those who were crowned Miss Haemoglobin showed the count increase from as low as 7-9 grams of haemoglobin per deciliter to 12-14 grams within six months.
Battle against iro n deficiency not only interesting but also effective: WCD joint director
Child Development Services Scheme (WCD) joint director Sandhya Vyas said the title format of the drive was making the battle against iron deficiency not only interesting but also effective. The girls’ haemoglobin levels are first measured and then a diet and medicine regime is prescribed to them for six months. At the end of the tenure, their iron levels are rechecked and the ones showing highest improvement are crowned with the title. They feel honoured and have begun to attach their social identities with it. Seeing them honoured, other girls have also begun to participate in the drive. This is how it is catching on, explained Vyas.
Tina, 12, of Mhow, who was crowned Miss Haemoglobin recently, said, “Being Miss India, Miss World or Miss Universe is a dream of every girl. But, for me, Miss Haemoglobin title is nothing less.”
Tina had achieved 12 grams of haemoglobin per decilitre (120 grams per litre) from 9.4 g/dl (94 grams per litre) in last six months.
To earn this laurel, we have to eat healthy and properly: Miss Haemoglobin
An ecstatic Miss Haemoglobin said, “To earn this laurel, we girls don’t need to go in for crash dieting or to spend several hours in gym or put layers of make-up on the face. We have to eat healthy and properly.”
Vyas said iron deficiency is a major cause of common ailments like dizziness, pain and even memory loss. Therefore, the drive is not just about catching headlines, but about ensuring a healthy future woman, she said.
Vyas said before the title format, the girls’ awareness level about the iron deficiency and its cure was steeped in ignorance and superstition. They feared that the tablets might cause side effects and would either throw them out or let them expire in their shelves. But, now the things have changed, she said.
Dr B Sabarwal, chief block medical officer of Manpur, said that the initiative would educate rural girls about the importance of haemoglobin and how its deficiency could lead to anaemia and other diseases.
“The contest will help develop a healthy society,” he said.