Webinar on ‘Anaemia: issues, challenges and way forward’ by Resource Centre for Advancement on Public Health Nutrition, Dept of CM&FM, AIIMS Bhubaneswar & UNICEF Odisha

Bhubaneswar : Anaemia is considered as global public health problem. One third of the world population is anaemic and the scenario is going to worsen. Anemia causes losses of billions of dollars annually in terms of productivity. Therefore, to discuss this very important topic, Resource Center For Advancement of Public Health Nutrition, AIIMS Bhubaneswar in collaborations with UNICEF Odisha organized an exclusive thematic webinar on ‘Anaemia: issues, challenges, solutions and way forward’ on 17th October Saturday. Prof. Vikas Bhatia, Executive Director, AIIMS, Bibinagar, Prof.Shashi Kant, Professor & Head, Centre for Community Medicine, New Delhi and Prof. Debasish Hota, Dean Academic cum Professor & Head, Dept. of Pharmacology, AIIMS Bhubaneswar were the key speakers for the webinar. The sessions were moderated by Mr. Sourav Bhattacharjee, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Odisha and Dr Swayam Pragyan Parida, Associate professor, AIIMS Bhubaneswar.

The Webinar was started with the welcome address by Dr. Binod Kumar Behera, Associate Professor, Dept. of CM & FM, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar. Prof. Debasish Hota, Dean Academic cum Professor & Head, Dept. of Pharmacology, AIIMS Bhubaneswar in his keynote address said, “Anaemia is more common among females and other vulnerable groups. We must address this medical as well as social problem for a better society” he mentioned. Causes of anemia are inability to make adequate haemoglobin due to nutritional iron deficiency, destruction of Red blood cells, health problem like chroric kidney disorder, inadequate protein intake. More than 50% population in Odisha is anaemic and women & children are the worst sufferers. If a child is anaemic, there will be problem in its growth and development, whereas in adult, we find depression & reduction of life span, if the adult is aneamic. We as medical personals need to deal with anaemia with a holistic approach.

Prof. Vikas Bhatia, Executive Director, AIIMS, Bibinagar, Telengana, explained the issues and challenges to deal with anemia in India. He said, as per one of the survey conducted by his team in Odisha, anaemia is not only prevalent in normal population, it is there among front line health workers whose Hb was assessed in the survey. Among beneficiaries, it was most prevalent among lactating mothers (77%), followed by women of reproductive age (71%), pregnant women (69%) and adolescent girls (68%). Among the frontline workers, anaemia was most common among ASHAs (69%), followed by AWW (62%) and ANMS (53%). Fortunately, the occurance of severe anaemia is low (1-3%), but the prevalence of moderate anaemia (7-20%) and of mild anaemia (39-58%) is very high. Prof. Bhatia also highlighted the issue of supply chain and logistic issues and compliance towards Iron folic acid tablets are major issues in fight against anaemia. There are also challenges in supervision, monitoring and reporting in anaemia programme implementation like time constraints on the part of health worker, lack of specific monitoring checklist at filed level and subsequent activities. He emphasizes on lack of training in various level of program stakeholders and COVID -19 related disruption of services and challenges in training program or meetings.
Speaking on the Anaemia in India its Solutions & Way forward Prof. Shashi Kant, Senior Professor & Head, Centre for Community Medicine, New Delhi, highlighted for focused and aggressive management of anaemia among ante natal mother. There are over 450 million antenatal women in India and one quarter of antenatal and postpartum women (N=15 million) are moderately or severely anemic. We need to think of better and effective therapeutic options such as intravenous Ferric Carboxy Maltose (FCM) for improving hemoglobin level among postpartum women with moderate to severe anemia. He stressed on multi pronged approach to deal with the condition.

The webinar was attended by more than 160 participants from various medical and nursing colleges of Odisha and doctors all over the country. The webinar was concluded with vote of thanks by Ms. Kasturi Panda, Consultant, RCAPHN, Department of Community Medicine & Family Medicine, AIIMS Bhubaneswar.