A drive for good nutrition among pregnant women and children in a southern Assam district has been given boost using gooseberry candies . This follows a report that the targeted groups find the prescribed iron-folic acid tablets repulsive.
According to the 2015 National Family Health Survey, 47.2% of the women of reproductive age in Hailakandi district of Assam were anaemic. The district, thus, has the most anaemic children below 5 years, adolescents and women of reproductive age in Assam.
Mothers, pregnant women and children in the district, data reveal, consume only 24.3% of the total iron-folic acid tablets that the district receives and distributes.
The tablets given to these groups are often not consumed as they feel nauseated or have constipation issues. There are also myths that these tablets will kill them or make them incapable of conceiving.
To substitute Iron tablets,the district administration has produced roundish amla-gur candies with a dose of salt. Nutritionists have claimed that Amla, or gooseberry, is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, while gur, or jaggery, is rich in iron, vital vitamins and minerals that boost the immune system.
If women and children avoid the tablet, they can get the required vitamin and mineral inputs through the substituted item, whose ingredients are available locally.
This is a novel initiative which can go a long way in checking anaemia that increases the risk during pregnancy and at childbirth, besides resulting in low birth weight and malnourished children.