COVID-19 Pushes back ‘Anemia Mukt Bharat,’ Focus on Technology: Experts
It might be tempting to blame every crisis on the COVID-19 pandemic. However, quite often, facts get in the way. India has the highest total prevalence of Anemia at 39.86% in the world, which prompted the GoI to initiate Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB), which aims to strengthen the existing mechanisms and foster newer strategies for tackling Anemia. As per the 5th National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently, more than half of the children and women are anaemic in 13 of the 22 States/UTs in the country. To discuss the Anemia Mukt Bharat: Where are we; the challenges of a developing nation to tackle Anemia and the prospective solutions to those challenges; how accurate Point of Care (PoC) diagnosis and data can be the game-changer for Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB), Unite to Eradicate Anemia E-Summit 2020 – the Episode-13 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series was organised by the HEAL Foundation and powered by HemoCue.
The reduction of Anemia is one of the important objectives of the POSHAN Abhiyaan launched in March 2018. Complying with the targets of POSHAN Abhiyaan and National Nutrition Strategy set by NITI Aayog, the Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) strategy has been designed to reduce prevalence of Anemia by 3 percentage points per year among children, adolescents and women in the reproductive age group (15–49 years), between the year 2018 and 2022.
Deliberating on how accurate Point of Care (PoC) diagnosis and data can be the game-changer for Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) during Unite to Eradicate Anemia E-Summit 2020 – the Episode-13 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series, Dr J L Meena, Joint Director, National Health Authority (NHA), GoI, said, “Test is the best option for the prevention of Anemia. First, screening, prevention and then treatment should be done. Screening should be qualitative because it ensures the actual status. For this, the role Point of Care (PoC) is very important. Screening for Anemia needs serious consideration as per protocols in the public and private sector. Quality control is also very important in this direction. Treatment for Anemia is also there in AYUSHMAN Bharat.”
Dr Kapil Yadav, Additional Professor & Nodal Person, National Centre of Excellence and Advanced Research on Anemia Control (NCEAR-A), Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, said, “Although NFHS-5 data show Anaemia continues to be a major concern among women, children, yet Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) campaign, with an ambitious target of reducing anaemia by three percentage points per annum till 2022, are not really captured in the NFHS-5 data because they really got going only recently. And we have made remarkable progress in 2.5 years as there has been a paradigm shift in Anemia point of care diagnostic tests. Digital Haemoglobin meters have lots of scopes and are widely used for testing with increased demand. Three things – Point of care (Diagnostics), Food fortification and the parenteral (non-oral means of administration) iron for moderate to severe Anemia are the key to achieve AMB targets.”
While speaking in the Unite to Eradicate Anemia E-Summit 2020 – the Episode-13 of the HEAL-Thy Samvaad series, Urvashi Prasad, Public Policy Specialist, NITI Aayog, said, “The role of technology is very important towards accomplishing the targets of Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB), it needs to be scaled up. We must continue to focus on technology. In order to achieve the targets, data integration is a must. Once data integration is done, then digitise the fragmented data. Digital technology is gaining ground in all walks of life, so we can also use this in accomplishing Anemia Mukt Bharat targets. Digital haemoglobin meters are being widely used for testing. And that will increase.”
Dr Archana Mishra, Dy. Director, Maternal Health, National Health Mission (NHM), Madhya Pradesh, said, “Of a number of measures being used in Madhya Pradesh towards accomplishing Anemia Mukt Bharat targets, deworming is implemented, counselling of pregnant and anaemic women are also going on. The injection is also added in our protocol. Double fortified salt is also distributed through PDS. Digital diagnostic tool to measure the accurate point-of-care test for haemoglobin is also used.”
Dr Hema Diwakar, Former President, FOGSI, said, “The role of accurate Point of Care (PoC) diagnosis and data can be the game-changer in achieving Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) targets. The experience with PoC that we experienced in the state of Karnataka is amazing. If simple devices like digital haemoglobin meters will be used at the primary centres, it will help in myriad ways. The gap between innovation and implementation needs to be bridged. Test, Treat & Talk (TTT) will be the key strategy to generate demand and mobilise people on anaemia. T-Test with the help of a digital haemoglobinmeter. T-Treat with iron-folic acid tablets (IFA) and referral. T-Talk counselling beneficiaries on healthy lifestyle measures, to increase iron levels in the body and on foods rich in iron, protein and vitamin C.”