Doctors take first step towards anaemia free India

Gynaecologists spread the significance of Hb level in women

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Over 38000 doctors from across India, belonging to the Federation of Gynecologists’ & Obstetrician Society of India (FOGSI), pledge to make an anaemia free India and spread its significance complete blood count (CBC) for HB test among women and young adolescents.

With over 5 million people in India being affected by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the need to fortify immunity has never been felt so paramount before. There has been a spike in the consumer interest towards health and wellness and so 38000 gynecologists across India for ‘More Than Bara’. The initiative by FOGSI and Emcure Pharmaceuticals for mission Anemia Free India takes this as an opportunity to reinstate the significance of iron in fortifying immunity and eradicating Anaemia from India.

“We are more than 38000 for #More than Bara”, these doctors passionately proclaim as they take on the mantle to spread awareness among women on the significance of HB tests.

According to gynecologists, lower Iron levels increase the risk of contracting infections and can lead to anaemia, a condition in which a person has an insufficient number of red blood cells or quantity of haemoglobin, which reduces the capacity of their blood to carry oxygen.

Especially pregnant women are at a much higher risk. Dr. Jaydeep Tank reveals, “Pregnant women with anaemia are twice as likely to need blood transfusions, as compared to those without the condition. Yet most pregnant women aren’t screened early in their pregnancy for iron deficiency, which can lead to severe complications during childbirth.”

The gynecologists are coming together for a brighter and more positive future for India’s women by head-on challenging anaemia. Their vision is to take a multi-pronged collaborative approach to ensure the desired medical outcomes. They firmly believe that this is a good time to create more awareness about anaemia as people are now serious about preserving their health.

Dr Alpesh Gandhi, president of FOGSI, informs that anaemia is widespread in India—58.6% of children, 53.2% of non-pregnant women, and 50.4% of pregnant women were found to be anaemic in 2016, as per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). Moreover, pregnant women and young girls are more at risk of anaemia. “What people don’t know about anaemia is that this medical condition not only causes more health illnesses but also aggravates pre-existing health problems such as diabetes, heart ailments and other comorbidities. Therefore, it is important to identify and treat anaemia,” he stresses.

Speaking about the vision behind this mission, Dr Gandhi says, “Just as a widespread government awareness programme about Covid-19 has helped us to save many lives and brought about the required behavioral change towards health, hygiene and immunity, we hope to create a similar impact for anaemia awareness too. Anaemia is extremely important to build immunity and in India, women are the most affected so this initiative is extremely crucial at this point of time and we hope to reinstate this significance. Covid-19 has shown that if healthcare providers, media and government come together to create a strong awareness programme, we can achieve the desired goals. Likewise, for anaemia, we need similar collaborations between NGOs, health influencers, healthcare providers and government to have a concerted effort to end this anaemia endemic in India.”

As advocates of health, these 38,000 doctors have created a network to keep track of statistics, medical programs and medical outcomes around anaemia. Their first step in this endeavor is to get their CBC test done to know HB and spread the word through social media campaigns to highlight the growing dangers of anaemia and ways to tackle it.

Dr Tank explains further, “Apart from making people aware of anaemia, we also intend to create awareness among physicians. So we would provide information to physicians on recommending iron supplements and suggest essential investigation for Anaemia among women. The hope is that apart from spreading awareness, we will be able to use simple steps such as iron supplementation, providing information about nutrition in women’s health in general to alleviate the problems associated with anaemia.

Dr Shanta Kumari highlights that in the last 70 years India has been trying to control anaemia through various government programs under the National Health Mission, but we have not conquered it as per desirable level. “There are various reasons for the lack of complete success of these programmes. Our patriarchal society’s mindset towards nutrition among girls and boys is one such example. However, there are some winds of change but with little success. Our vision behind this initiative is to create a strong voice for Anaemia control.”

“We need constant reinforcement on the significance of adding Iron supplements to our dietary plan to ensure healthy individuals and a healthy nation. This requires constant effort from healthcare providers like us and support from the government and media. Also, the government must rope in the media to achieve higher medical outcomes from these programmes. For instance, even media channels must have a government mandate of running health advocacy ads at least for 5 seconds per hour to ensure that we re-establish healthy habits and health consciousness among people,” she maintains.

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