MADURAI: A sustained intervention to improve the basic health parameters of students studying in Corporation schools needs to be taken up as a top most priority since 25 percent of students were found to be “severe anaemic”.
Since most of the Corporation school students come from families with poor economic background, their intake of nutritious food is very less thereby resulting in prevalence of anaemia among these children.
An anaemia detection and control initiative taken up by Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) Madurai Branch in Corporation schools last academic year in Madurai city throws light on the seriousness of the situation and the importance of nutrition.
For instance, anaemia screening was done by FPAI team for 6,000 students of 10 Corporation schools in Madurai city last academic year with the support of HCL Foundation.
“We did that for boys and girls for 6th std to 12th std in these 10 schools in Madurai and 25 per cent of students screened were diagnosed as severely anaemic. Their haemoglobin level was very low, it was found to be less than 9 grams,” Dr.S.Pratibhan, Branch Manager, FPAI Madurai Branch, told ‘Lotus Times’ news website here today- 13th July 2020. (If blood test finds less than 12 gms hemoglobin/100ml- it is deficiency).
Once the corporation schools reopen after Corona lockdown, the focus on preventing, controlling and treating anaemia among school students has to be stepped up.
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Dr.Prathiban has said that haemoglobin level should be 12 g as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines but if the hb level is less than 9, then it indicates the severity.
“During our study among these screened children, one of the important findings was that students were missing morning breakfast and that is making them anaemic. The food they are taking is not nutritious or balanced. Students were taking junk food-packed items. So, from the FPAI, our nutrition counsellors are talking the parents of anaemic students, we give vitamin tablets, dates etc.,” Dr.Pratibhan has said.
FPAI has been holding sensitization programs for school teachers on anaemia so that they can take further action for their students’ health. “We are able to do this with the support of Madurai Corporation and district administration. After the lockdown, our efforts will continue,” he added.
According to Dr.Prathiban, there was a significant improvement among the students after months of FPAI intervention and counselling as the 25 per cent anaemia number in those 10 Corporation schools had come down to nine percent.
“It is a positive impact and we are following it up with schools and parents. FPAI is continuing with tele-consultation even during the current lockdown period because food and nutrition is a daily issue,” he said. During 2018-19 academic year, FPAI had conducted anaemia screening camps in another 10 corporation schools in Madurai city.
Stating that anaemia control awareness is very important at school level, the FPAI Madurai Branch Manager had stressed that girl students in particular should not be anaemic because it leads to irregular periods-menstrual issues, affects reproductive health etc thereby causing complications.
FPAI is one of the pioneers in India that is working for past several decades for Sexual, Reproductive Health and Rights.