In Uttarakhand, anaemia among children between 9 months and 4 years, 11 months has improved by one point as its percentage fell from 59.8% to 58.8% according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) IV (2015-16) to NFHS V (2020-2021) respectively. However, the state's children are significantly anaemic. The trend of increasing anaemia among children is higher in the hill districts when compared to the plains. The data indicates that over 50% children sampled are anaemic in Uttarkashi (73.6%), Chamoli (65.5%), Haridwar (63.1%), Tehri (61.1%), Udham Singh Nagar (60.8%), Nainital (59.8%), Dehradun (59.5%), Almora (57.7), Pauri (57.2%), Rudraprayag (52.4%), while in Bageshwar it is 43.7%, Champawat (43.1%) and Pithoragarh (36.2%). The sample size varied as per the districts' population. While five districts have shown a rising in anaemia, the health department is concerned about the hill districts in particular, Chamoli (11.9%), Almora (9.1%) and Dehradun (8.9%), where the problem has increased by almost 9 points.
The authorities told TOI the problem is due to either clinical reasons, poor dietary habits or economic reasons. Uttarakhand had conducted various experiments ranging from getting food cooked in iron woks at anganwadi centres to adding millets in the midday meal at government schools. "Iron Folic Acid (IFA) supplementation is being administered rigorously to all affected children. Its complete coverage has increased from 47,000 to 1.45 lakh from July 2022 to March 2023 respectively," said a doctor overseeing the programme in Uttarakhand, requesting anonymity. Uttarakhand's target is to test at least 2.5 lakh tribal population for sickle cell anaemia, an inherited category. This mean some of these children may have inherited the disease genetically. Anaemia obstructs flow of oxygen to the body's tissues due to lack of haemoglobi, which in turns leads to multiple medical issues including tiredness, irregular heartbeat, chest pain and shortness of breath. Among children, it leads to stunting which may impede overall growth.
The trend of increasing anaemia among children is higher in the hill districts when compared to the plains.
The problem is due to either clinical reasons, poor dietary habits or economic reasons.
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