About 64% women living in Sundarbans islands suffer from anaemia, says a study conducted by the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Disease (NICED) and Save the Children NGO in Patharpratima block.
The major health consequences of anaemia include poor pregnancy outcome, impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children and reduced work productivity in adults. Anaemia contributes to 20% of all maternal deaths, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).
NICED's Dr Samiran Panda, who led the study, said besides nutritional deficiencies, unhygienic practices prevalent among the people of Sundarbans are also responsible for anaemia.
The study says that women not reporting use of sanitary latrine had 1.3 times the odds of having iron deficiency anaemia. Besides other nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin B12, folate and Vitamin A, iron deficiency is thought to be the most common cause of anaemia globally.
Lack of iron in the body affects immune system making it more vulnerable to any disease.
"With this report we can scientifically conclude that around 80 to 90% of the women there are suffering from iron deficiency," Dr Panda said stressing that the matter is of serious concern.
Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. In the survey, only 20% of women reported frequent intake of milk, 19% frequent intake of egg and 11% frequent intake of lemon. At least 14% women reported frequent intake of any kind of fruits.
To prevent anaemia, the report recommends a change in dietary habits and behaviour change communications focusing on breast feeding practices, use of sanitary latrine and food and hand wash practices.