Anemia: A Visible Problem of Indian Women

By Hiba Zafar | Awaz-e-Khwateen

Women’s health is a critical aspect of a nation’s well-being and progress. In India, where diversity and complexity are the norm, addressing women’s. Health issue remains. A multifaced challenge. Women’s health in India is a complex issue Despite significant. Despite the progress that India has made in improving women’s health conditions, India still continues to struggle with the number of health disparities that directly impact women’s health. According to data from the National Family Health Survey and World Health Organisation, the maternal mortality rate has declined by over 70% since 1990, and the life expectancy for women has increased by over 10 years. Around 50 million women in India suffer from reproductive health problems.

Anaemia is indeed a significant health concern in India, it impacts around 50% of women of reproductive age in India. Anemia is a major health crisis, impacting every second woman, and adolescent girl, yet it largely remains unnoticed and unaddressed. The World. Health Organisation defines anemia as a Condition characterized by the deficiency of healthy blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood, fatigue, weakness, and a range of leading health complications. According to National Family. Health Survey (NFHS) conducted during 2005-2006 (NFHS 3), 2015-16 (NFHS 4) and) 2019-21 (NFHS 5) more than half of Indian women aged 15-49 suffer from anemia. Anemia prevalence rates among different social groups of women in different states differ. In India, more than 15 states belong to the high prevalence (>65%) of anemia among socially backward groups in 2019-21. The anemia prevalence was high (>55%) in all social groups (Sc & ST, OBC, general) observed in 7 states in NFHS-3,4 in NFHS-4 and 11 states in NFHS-5. The overall result reveals that the SC and ST women were more prone to any anemia than OBC or general women and the prevalence rate slightly increased from 2005-06 to 2019-21. Among all variables, economic status dominantly controls the anemia level in all social groups. The odds of women having anemia were lower among higher educated and urban women as compared to the non-educated and rural women,” irrespective of social group.

Several factors contribute to the high prevalence of anemia in Indian girls and women:

Poor Nutrition: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, especially iron, folate, and vitamin B12, is a major cause of anemia. Many Indian diets lack the necessary components to maintain healthy hemoglobin levels.

Menstruation: Menstrual blood loss can significantly deplete iron stores in women.

Early Marriage and Pregnancy: A significant number of girls in India are married and become mothers at a young age. This can lead to multiple pregnancies in quick succession, increasing the risk of anemia.

Inadequate Healthcare: Access to quality healthcare, including antenatal care and anemia screening, is limited in many parts of India, particularly in rural areas.

Consequences of Anemia:

Anemia can have far-reaching consequences on the health and productivity of girls and women. Some of the potential repercussions include:

Fatigue and Weakness: Anemic individuals often experience fatigue, weakness, and reduced physical and cognitive performance.

Maternal and Infant Health: Anemia in pregnant women increases the risk of maternal mortality, preterm birth, and low birth weight in infants.

Impaired Cognitive Development: Anemia in adolescent girls can hinder cognitive development and educational attainment, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and ill health.

Reduced Work Productivity: Women with anemia may find it challenging to perform daily tasks, including their work and household responsibilities.

Government’s take and Initiatives to prevent Animea:

The Government of India has implemented various measures to prevent and compact anemia, especially among one rebel population including women and children some of the key measures and initiatives include:

  • The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program aims to tackle malnutrition and anemia by providing nutrition, including iron and folic acid supplements, to women lactating mothers and children under six years old.
  • The National Iron+ Initiative focuses on distributing iron and folic acid (IFA) supplements to women and lactating mothers through healthcare facilities and community workers at the level.
  • The National Nutritional Anemia Prophylaxis Program (NNAPP) aims to prevent anemia among school-age children by providing them with IFA supplements and deworming medications.
  • Through the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, the government provides meals in schools as a way to improve the status of children. This program also includes offering iron-fortified meals specifically targeting anemia.
  • Launched in 2018 the Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) Program focuses on screening and treating anemia in children, adolescents, and pregnant women while also promoting diversification.
  • The Poshan Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission) strives to enhance outcomes for children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers, by implementing targeted interventions.
  • The government implements programs aimed at tackling anemia by promoting the consumption of foods, in iron and providing supplements while also raising awareness about the significance of nutrition and preventing anemia.
  • Regular assessments of hemoglobin levels and monitoring for anemia are conducted by the government in areas, with prevalence rates to identify and address cases of anemia.
  • Ongoing research and surveillance activities are carried out to evaluate the occurrence of anemia and its underlying causes, which helps inform policy decisions based on evidence.

Iron and folic acid (IFA) supplements are the main strategy for controlling anemia. Anemia results from three primary factors: they include nutritional deficiency, genetic hemoglobin disorders, and infection and inflammation. Currently, the anemia prevention program that mostly depends on IFA supplementation can be good at dealing with nutritional anemia but ineffective against anemia of another nature. Therefore, it is necessary to reassess the patient’s hemoglobin levels after three months of IFA administration. However, if hemoglobin levels fail to improve, further investigation into other causes of anemia, such as infections and hemoglobinopathies, may be indicated.

Global & Indian perspective: a comparison:

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 1.62 billion people globally, or approximately 24.8% of the population, suffer from anemia. Women are among the many sufferers of anemia and this is one of the most pressing world health problems that affects millions across the global community, a comparison of the global perspective with the Indian shows both common challenges and peculiar intricacies. Anemia occurs worldwide, with iron deficiency in low- and middle-income countries, but in India, it is a more prominent issue, among women and children caused by multiple factors such as nutritional deficiencies, infections, and socioeconomic status anemia has global consequences including fatigue and maternal-child health problems, and iron supplements and dietary diversification, being among the common interventions, globally and in India, the specific challenges and interventions vary between countries. Nevertheless, India’s incredibly high anemia burden calls for a multi-dimensional strategy that deals with both nutritional deficiencies and wider socio-economic issues in tackling such a major disease burden.


Iron deficiency continues to be a big problem in India wherein almost all the states in Eastern India, North Eastern India, and Centre India have shown increasing rates of anemia with every generation. There were various socio-demographic variables including low income and education, rural dwelling, and more frequent childbearing that could be used as predictors of anemia for women’s social groups in India. India should enhance women’s nutrition status, and raise their income levels so as to eradicate this problem. On the other hand, GOI needs to refocus on the current policies on anemia and implementation at the grassroots level. The problem of anemia among Indian girls and women is complex. Far-reaching for health, education, and others. Productivity. In order to handle this problem aptly, however Nutritional health for children, menstrual hygiene, and good care. Access, and implementing government initiatives. By prioritizing India can take a big step towards the well-being of the girl child and women. Towards a healthier and better future for everyone.



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