Over 1.4 crore children to be covered under Vit-A programme

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Patna, Jun 21 (UNI) In order to protect children from nutritional blindness, the Bihar government has launched a special drive under which about 1.4 crore children between the age of nine months to five years would be covered under the vitamin A supplementation round.

UNICEF sources said here yesterday that the special round of vitamin A supplementation was already underway during which the children will receive vitamin A syrup.

The sources said the government had launched the scheme in collaboration with the UNICEF for controlling widespread nutritional blindness in pre-school children that occurs due to Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD).

Proper intake of vitamin A is also known to help in reducing risk of children contracting common ailments such as measles, malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory tract infections.

Perusal of a recent report of the UNICEF revealed that VAD had been a significant public health problem since long. The report stated that an alarmingly high (4.5 per cent) prevalence of Bitot's spot an early manifestation of VAD had been spoted in Bihar which was higher than the WHO cut-off of 0.5 per cent among pre-school children.

The sources said the Bihar state health society and UNICEF have been working together to address the problem through supplementation of therapeutic vitamin A dose.

The statewide round will be carried out from 80,189 Aanganwadi centres across the state in order to ensure coverage of each child.

The vast network of health centres that includes 541 Primary Health Centres, 1,170 additional primary health centres and 8,858 health Sub Centres will also be utilised in the campaign, the sources said.

Besides, 6,191 additional sites, manned by a trained volunteer, had been set up to reach out to children living in the remote areas.

A house to house approach will also be implemented to administer vitamin A syrup to children who have not visited the centres or live in remote areas.

The sources further said the vitamin A supplementation round in Bihar will also be harnessed to distribute Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablets to about 32.5 lakh pregnant mothers across 38 districts in the state for addressing iron deficiency that leads to anaemia. Each mother will be given 100 IFA tablets which help in reducing anaemia, a key cause behind pregnancy related complications.

About 60.2 per cent pregnant women in Bihar suffer from anaemia against the national avegare of 57.9 per cent.

The mothers of the children receiving the vitamin A drops and the pregnant women will be counselled on dietary modifications for prevention of vitamin A and iron deficiency during the drive, the sources informed.

UNI RS DPM RD1040

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