As per the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) data, 69.4 per cent of children aged between 6 and 59 months nearly 64 per cent women in Bihar, compared to 30 per cent men.
Anemia is a condition that is marked by low levels of hemoglobin in the blood. Iron deficiency is responsible for about half of the anemic people globally. But anemia can also be caused by malaria, hookworms and other helminths, other nutritional deficiencies, chronic infections and genetic conditions. It can result in maternal mortality, weakness, diminished physical and mental capacity, increased morbidity from infectious diseases, perinatal mortality, premature delivery, low birth weight and, in children, it can affect cognitive performance, motor development and scholastic achievement.
Compared to NFHS-4, the percentage of anaemic children and women has increased while it has decreased in men in Bihar. As per NFHS-4 data, 63.5 per cent of children were found anaemic. That increased to 69.4 percent in NFHS-5. For women (both pregnant as well as general) aged between 15 and 49 years, the number of anaemics increased from 60.3 per cent to 63.5 per cent in the last 5 years. In men aged 15 to 49 years, anemia decreased from 32.3 percent to 29.5 percent.
Even the national data shows similar trend. But unlike Bihar where percentage of anaemic men has decreased, national average shows an increase in this category also.
Another data, recently published by the Union health ministry after the analysis of its health management and information system (HMIS), marked Bihar in the bottom five in treatment given at the health institutions to pregnant women suffering from severe anaemia, with 37.52 per cent of such women getting treatment in 2021-22, unlikely 2020-21, when 43.82 per cent such women were given treatment at the hospital.
Noted gynecologist Dr Usha Didwania stressed on the need to have proper nutrition in diet, along with iron and folic tablets to tackle the issue. She said females, be it adolescent or married, face nutritional challenges and when it comes to eating, they consume what is left or do not pay attention to their diet. She advised them to eat a balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables.
Sharing her experience, she said long back they had set up a camp in a slum area in Patna for distribution of iron/folic tablets. “We saw small children running to a nearby medicine shop to sell the tablets which we had distributed in the family,” she said.