PANAJI: South Goa has seen surge in anaemia and malnutrition of late but the picture in North Goa is even more alarming, reveals the recent National Family Health Survey-4.
The survey has found 48.5 per cent of children in the age group of six to 59 months in North Goa anaemic while the all-Goa figure stands at 48.3 per cent which is 10 per cent more than the NFHS-3 conducted during the year 2005-06.
According to the survey, only 8.5 per cent of children in North Goa between the age of six and 23 months receive adequate diet.
In the district, 33.0 per cent women between the ages of 15 and 49 years have been found to be anaemic while the all-Goa figure is 38.0 per cent.
The survey also states that in North Goa, 23.8 per cent children aged less than five years are underweight, 21.4 per cent are stunted that is their height for age is not proper similarly 17.5 per cent children are wasted that is their weight to height ratio is not proper.
When contacted, the state family welfare bureau said that they are not aware of the findings that anaemia and malnutrition are prevalent as no survey has been conducted at the state level by the directorate of Health Services.
“All the data is of NFHS we as such do not have any data; we have not conducted any research. NFHS is conducted by a Delhi-based agency and while conducting the survey they don’t coordinate with us,” said a senior official of Goa State Family Health Bureau.
The official said that all necessary required steps are taken at the department level wherein required medicines are provided to the target group and awareness programmes are conducted.
Varsha Naik, assistant professor, Food Nutrition and Dietetics of Goa College of Home Science, said that the reasons for anaemia are the inadequacy in one’s dietary intake of iron, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B12, besides protein and other important minerals.
Naik also explained about the signs and symptoms of anaemia. She said, “Haemoglobin goes down because of iron deficiency, as a result, the supply of oxygen to target tissues is affected and hence one of the classic sign and symptoms are you get breathlessness and you feel tired, giddiness all these are the symptoms.”
She further said that if an anaemic mother gives birth she is likely to deliver an underweight child. The child also could be anaemic because it is growing in a hypoxic environment in the mother’s womb.
“Studies have indicated that the concentration level, intelligence quotient gets affected,” she said.
She said that anaemic person should avoid eating salad as it has a lot of dietary fibre as well as some of substance which interferes with the absorption of iron.
She further said that chicken, mutton, fish, and egg are an important source of iron and are best absorbed when compared with the absorption level in vegetables.
Naik also said that worm infestation is another major cause of anaemia in which most common is Ascaris worm which sucks the blood as a result of which there is low Haemoglobin for the formation of red blood cells.
“During pregnancy, there could be severe complications especially if a pregnant woman goes through the caesarean section as there will be loss of blood, as a result, the iron status could further deplete,” she said.
The study reveals that only 60 per cent children from infancy to six months are exclusively breastfed in the state, while total children in between the age of six to 23 months receive adequate diet are only 11.9 per cent in North Goa.
Naik said that mother has to do exclusive breast feeding for six months; she said that stress also interferes with the flow of mother’s milk.
“A mother may also have lactation failure hence they feed their children processed and pre-processed foods like cerelac and ‘top fast food, the other reasons may as mothers give up breast feeding prior to six months may be due to the clash between family and professional life,” she said.
Naik said that if a child is given optimal nutrition, optimal healthcare, and grows up in an optimal environmental condition along with the timely immunisation then it can grow perfectly. Naik said that there should be awareness among the public about the food composition and armed with adequate knowledge to tackle anaemia and malnutrition.