The Indian Express

Over fifty per cent women of reproductive age anaemic in Maharashtra: Study

MORE THAN half the women in Maharashtra, who are in their prime reproductive age, are suffering from anaemia with the highest prevalence in Vidarbha, a latest study has found.

Anaemia is a health condition when the concentration of red blood cells is low, reducing the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity. Anaemia is mainly caused due to deficient iron content in the human body. Besides, it can also be a result of deficiency in Vitamin A, B12, folate, acute inflammation and parasitic infections.

It is considered a public health menace as anaemics experience reduced cognitive development, report impaired sexual and reproductive development and reduced productivity.

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Researcher duo — Koustov Ghosh from Pune’s Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics and Mithun Mog representing National Institute of Technology, Agartala — studied anaemia in women aged 15 and 49 across 36 districts of the state.

Data of National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) conducted during 2014-2015 and 2019-2020 were primarily used for the study, published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health.

“54.2 per cent women are anaemic in Maharashtra, and this indicates a severe public health problem,” the study found. The share of anaemics has increased by 6.2 per cent between 2014-2015 and 2019-2020.

At 60.22 per cent, Nandurbar had the most anemic women during 2014-2015 but the same was replaced by Gadchiroli, with a percentage share jump to 66.20 per cent by 2019-2020. Likewise, Washim (35.46 per cent) had the lowest anemic cases five years ago but the same in the latest NFHS stood at 41.20 per cent in Sindhudurg — confirming the growing prevalence of anemia among women in the state.

Positively, instances of anaemia in five districts — Mumbai city, Mumbai suburban, Sangli, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg — showed some improvement during the six years even as the remaining 31 districts fared poorly. Among most anaemics were Gadchiroli, Jalgaon, Wardha, Dhule, Yavatmal, Washim, Parbhani (see box).

“Washim, Wardha, Buldhana districts show high positive changes, and could pose serious health problems in women,” the researchers said.

Prevalence of anaemia is higher among developing and underdeveloped countries (up to 43 per cent) as opposed to advanced countries, where it is below 10 per cent. According to the World Health Organization, India is among the top countries with a high number of anaemia cases and a cause for 20 to 40 per cent maternal deaths.

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