Anemia ControlEn Français
- Anemia has many causes: almost half of all cases can be attributed to iron deficiency; other common causes include genetic factors and infections, such as malaria and schistosomiasis.
- The WHO estimates that worldwide 47% of pre-school children and 42% of pregnant women suffer from anemia, 60% of which is estimated to be due to iron deficiency.
- Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, a key protein responsible for the movement of oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency anemia can adversely affect the cognitive and motor development of children and the physical capacity of children and adults.
- Iron deficiency anemia is considered to be one of the most important contributing factors to the global burden of disease because of its harmful effects on child growth and development, as well as the scale of the danger it poses to the lives of pregnant women and their unborn babies.
- A national anemia survey from 2001 indicated that 23 million children and 9 million women of reproductive age in rural Bangladesh were anemic, and more recent studies indicate there has been little improvement since that time.
- Alarmingly high rates of anemia were found among preschool-aged children in rural Cambodia; prevalence was highest among children less than 24 months of age (nearly 70%).
- Anemia is a serious problem in rural Nepal: more than 78% of preschool children, 75% of pregnant women and 68% of non-pregnant women suffer from the condition.
- Until fortified foods become widely available, or until poor rural people eat enough foods rich in micronutrients, anemia control programs such as providing iron supplements will be a key means to prevent and control anemia in developing countries.
What HKI Is Doing
Helen Keller International work in anermia control is varied and a critical part or our work in preventing malnutrition. We encourage pregnant and post-partum women to take iron-folic acid supplements, we promote de-worming for pregnant women and children 12-59 months, and we also promote the use of insecticide-treated bed nets to reduce exposure to malaria. Intestinal worms and malaria are major contributors to anemia in these vulnerable populations.
We also work to improve access to iron-fortified products. In collaboration with local partners Helen Keller Internatioanl researches and deploys effective social marketing campaigns and distribution strategies to help increase awareness and adoption of point-of-use food fortificants, such as Sprinkles® micronutrient powders, fortified sweet soy sauce, and iron-fortified bread, all inexpensive products that can be used to easily fortify home-cooked meals. Examples of our efforts include:
- HKI’s initiative, Fortify West Africa, aims to require mandatory fortification of wheat flour with iron and folic acid throughout West Africa.
- In Indonesia, HKI actively works with local partners to develop and implement social marketing strategies aimed at increasing the awareness and consumption iron-fortified sweet soy sauce. HKI developed promotional materials such as flip-charts and flyers to help achieve the campaign goals.
- In Indonesia, following the 2004 tsunami, Helen Keller International, working with H. J Heinz & Co. Inc., distributed free short-term supply of Sprinkles (known locally as Vitalita) sachets in affected areas to the parents or caretakers of 200,000 children to address anemia as well as other micronutrient deficiencies. This innovative public-private partnership is considered the largest distribution program of Sprinkles ever undertaken. HKI implemented a similar program after the 2005 earthquake.
- In India, HKI spearheaded an effort that began in September 2007 with funding from the Heinz Foundation to design and launch a Sprinkles distribution effort through existing Integrated Child Development Services in Maharashtra State. Working closely with the government, Sprinkles was distributed through its Anganwadi system (child- and mother-care centers) and was found to be successful in reducing anemia in children. (For more information, see Food Fortification.)
Marketing efforts included disseminating information and providing training to educate health workers and mothers about anemia and the proper use of Sprinkles®.
- Program Locations
- Burkina Faso
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Sierra Leone
- Key Publications
- The role of nutrition in integrated programs to control neglected tropical diseases.
- Iron and folic acid supplements in pregnancy improve child survival in Indonesia
- New World Health Organization guidelines and Home Fortification Technical Advisory Group program guidance on the use of multiple micronutrient powders for home fortification of foods for pregnant women and young children.