Updated: May 5, 2020
Why are we talking about Anaemia in 2019?
Or why are we talking about Anaemia? Its 2019!
In today’s times, women empowerment is a rage but a large part of women's population is still oblivious to something as trivial and curable as Anaemia and its long-term effects. This ignorance is what has made this deficiency disease a monster ready to gulp our young girls in their productive years and making their progeny malnourished, stunted, slow and weak.
The problem is that this progeny will be our future generation. The thought of giving our country in hands of deficient children tomorrow weakens the hope of making India- ‘A Super Power’.
According to WHO, Anaemia is the most common nutritional deficiency disorder in the world, iron deficiency leading the cause. WHO reports suggest nearly 80 percent of the world population being deficient of iron in their bodies. Various studies in India also suggest that a little under half of the Indian population is dealing with anaemia, mostly all of them women, girls and children of various age groups, impacting their overall health. It is a “severe” public problem that needs to be tackled the right way. India’s Anaemia problem is not new and anaemia is not a new term for the general public. We all know that when body’s red blood cell count falls it causes Anaemia, severely impacting body’s ability to use the oxygen. We all also shove this problem aside thinking popping an iron pill or two will solve the problem, sadly that has not been the case in the past and now it has become an endemic. So how do we tackle this problem without acknowledging the lack of awareness and education?
It is often said that when you educate a boy, you educate an individual, but when you educate a girl, you educate a family. Stronger, healthier women will only strengthen the society. When women’s health becomes a top priority for any nation, they end up securing future of an entire generation to come. Recognizing the problem that effects a major part of the population, the Indian government is committed to the cause “Anaemia Mukt Bharat” (Anaemia free India), making elimination of Anaemia a key strategic priority. However, one of the major road blocks that they’ve met with apart from lack of awareness and education is the mindset of the general public. A vast majority doesn’t even want to recognize Anaemia to be a problem.
While we talk about empowerment, education and literacy, what does disparity in economic status have anything to do with diet and health related awareness? We often think that anaemia mostly affects those who belong to lower economic backgrounds, given the poor hygiene conditions. While the rich are so inclined towards eating healthy and follow various fad diets, eat overly processed foods they often miss nutrition in the name of healthy eating. The foods are often empty calories without any essential vitamins or minerals, making the immunity low. The urban elite and health-conscious folks undermine anaemia although it’s directly linked with endurance and strength. We see it around us, people want to lose weight and fit into a certain category on the weighing scale. They will do anything to lose weight but will not care much about nutrition that their bodies need.
On the other hand, we see overworked middle-class women who ignore their own health and put family first. While those from lower economic backgrounds suffer from lack of education and awareness apart from social conditioning that makes them put ‘themselves’ last. After all patriarchy has made women believe that they somehow are lesser than everyone else and that putting themselves first is looked down upon. This is why there is a need for this social conditioning to be put aside, starting now!
What are the symptoms of Anemia?
The most common symptoms of many types of anemia include the following:
Easy tiredness and fatigue
Breathlessness, palpitation and headache, particularly with exercise
Pale skin complexion
Other less common symptoms include tinnitus, oral ulcer, and change in taste, itchy skin, and spoon-shaped nail.
These symptoms may be present in other diseases also but if any of the symptoms is present, you should definitely consider the possibility that person could be having anemia.
Furthermore, severe anemia if left untreated can make you more susceptible to recurrent infections and allergies owing to compromised immunity. Severe iron deficiency anemia may also increase the risk of heart and lung disease.
Anemia in pregnant women increases the risk of complications before and after birth.
What can be done on daily basis to deal with ‘Anaemia’?
Since the most common cause of anemia is nutritional deficiency, especially iron and vitamins, what we can do at our end is that we should take proper diet and supplements if required. Here are few suggestions which you can follow regarding diet and supplements:
Include Iron rich greens in the daily diet
Poha, amla, kamalkakdi, anaar, gur, dates, beetroot (chukandar) are inexpensive natural sources.
Ingest Iron alongside a Vitamin C source for better absorption. Even a supplement pill needs to be taken with orange juice for effective absorption.
Don’t take your iron and calcium supplements together
Cook in cast Iron pots like our ancestors did. Helps adsorb iron to cooked food.
Do away with caffeine and alcohol to help your body retain Iron.
Pregnant woman should take Iron folate supplements available at every Government dispensary. This is important for unborn child's brain and spine health.
Anaemia is a problem that can be beaten at its game. Empower the men and the women to be more aware and all of that starts with YOU. ‘Women’ learn to put ‘yourself’ first. Focus on your health too. Only a healthy person can make others happy. Often talking about a problem opens up a possibility of finding a solution.