A recent study has shown that three out of every five girls living in Dharavi are anaemic. A lack of iron in the body — which is needed for the production of red blood cells — is what causes anaemia.
Priya Naik, CEO of non-governmental organisation Samhita, says lack of awareness is what makes it a challenge to beat anaemia.
“Anaemia is one of the most avoidable diseases, but it is on the rise due
to lack of awareness. A majority of women in India are suffering from anaemia, but they don’t even realise it until other complications arise,” says Naik.
Samhita is one of the NGO partners of the Stayfree Women For Change DNA iCan Women’s Marathon, which attempts to shine the spotlight on the issue of anaemia in women.
A woman is termed anaemic if her haemoglobin level falls below 12gm/100ml.
This can directly affect not only her physical and mental development, but also cause infections and even affect pregnancies in the future.
Emphasising the need to spread awareness about the issue, Naik said, “Being anaemic affects productivity directly. An anaemic woman delivers a child with low birth weight. For such a preventable disease, we only need to spread awareness so that women go for screening of symptoms like tiredness, fatigue etc.”
Apart from fatigue and poor concentration levels, many anaemic girls also suffer from obesity. From worm infestation to improper nutrition, the causes could be many.
Dr Rekha Daver, head of gynaecology at JJ hospital, said, “Girls from lower socio-economic strata are unaware of the concept of eating nutritious food. Even if they are, they do not have the means to cook it. Correcting anaemia in adolescents is very important, as these girls will go on to be mothers tomorrow. If they are unhealthy, then their children will be unhealthy too.”