UNICEF calls for holistic approach to tackle anaemia

Krachi, (V/R)- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called for a holistic approach to enhance early detection and control of anaemia, as it impacts on girls’ performance in day-to-day activities.

Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, Country Director, UNICEF Ghana, said anaemia led to reduction in cognitive abilities and energy levels of girls.

She noted that studies showed that in Ghana half of girls of age 15 to 19 years were anaemic; therefore, there was the need to create more awareness about it among teenagers, community members and traditional leaders on anaemia prevention and control.

She said UNICEF and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) had initiated the Girls Iron-Folate Tablet Supplementary (GIFTS) programme under its Better Life for Girls (BLG) initiative, as part of efforts to reduce anaemia; so they could be stronger and study better.

Ms Dufay made these remarks in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of an interaction with students of Dambai District Assembly Junior High School in the Krachi East District of the Volta Region.

The interaction forms part of UNICEF-KOICA joint mission to the Krachi East District of the Volta Region to access interventions on adolescent girls.

The three year BLG project aims at providing adolescent girls in Ghana with knowledge, skills, and an enabling environment to enable them make informed decisions on issues affecting them and to help them reach their full potential.

All 44 schools and 14 health facilities in Krachi East are delivering the GIFTS programme whereas , a total of 2258 in-school girls and 624 out-of-school girls had been registered and benefitted from the programme, including the health and nutrition education sessions.

Ms Dufay said that the students were knowledgeable about issues girls were facing especially anaemia, as they complained of being tired and weak, adding that this is why we are supporting health authorities in providing some tablets containing iron and folic acid, once a week.

She said UNICEF was keen to support the Government of Ghana, in providing good education for girls in many of the schools where they worked, as there were smart schools where awareness was raised about the importance of eating rich iron foods.

The Country Director for UNICEF Ghana noted that its holistic approach towards adolescent girl empowerment was actual multi-sectoral, adding that we do not only work on health, but we work on child protection, education, sanitation and water, with a common goal of helping them reach their fullest potential.

Mr Yukyum Kim, Country Director for KOICA, said the students had knowledge about what anaemia entailed and also understood that the implementation of the GIFTS programme aims at assisting them to reduce the prevalence of anaemia.

He said many of the students also testified to the fact that since they started taking the tablets their blood levels had increased, and was therefore hopeful that by the time the project was completed anaemic level within the area will go down.

Mr Kim said the community would also be enlightened because some students expressed misconceptions where their parents were thinking the iron folic tablet was for family planning and not anaemia.

So we have suggested to them to educate their parents to understand the importance of taking the iron folic tablets, he added.

Since 2017, UNICEF has supported the Volta Region to pilot the GIFTS programme which reached girls aged ten to 19, who are at a higher risk of anaemia whether in-school or out-of-school, through community health facilities.

Every Wednesday, during the school term the in-school GIFTS provides each girl with a combined Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) tablet by Direct Observation Treatment (DOT) .

The out-of-school GIFTS provide girls with one tablet by DOT at the health facility and a remaining monthly supply of three tablets for home treatment.

Health and Nutrition education sessions are delivered in schools and in health facilities to equip boys and girls with knowledge on iron and anaemia prevention and control.

Source: Ghana News Agency