100, 000 adolescent girls to be on iron folic acid supplement in Dedza

Dedza: The Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS (DNHA) will start providing Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablets to over 100,000 adolescent girls aged between 10 and 19 for a period of 52 weeks in Dedza.

Principal Nutrition, HIV and AIDS Officer for Dedza, Ernest Kadzokoya, revealed the development during a press briefing in the district.

According to Kadzokoya, this is a pilot project which the Malawi Government in partnership with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Vision Malawi, and Adolescent Girls’ Literacy (AGLIT) is implementing in six districts namely Dedza, Salima, Mangochi, Machinga, Dowa and Lilongwe.

Actually, this exercise is coming based on the Malawi Demographic health survey of 2015 to 2016 which revealed that the prevalence of anemia among girls of child bearing age is 35.3 per cent, he said.

We are aiming to administer folic acid supplements to both in and out of school girls of child bearing age every Wednesday for 52 weeks. We have already trained teachers who will be providing the supplements to those in school and health surveillance workers who will assist those out of school, he added.

Kadzokoya explained that World Health Organization (WHO) gave a recommendation that in all countries where the prevalence of anemia among girls of child bearing age is 20 per cent or higher, IFA should be provided.

In her remarks, Social Behaviour Change Officer for AGLIT, Caroline Bande, said when adolescent girls are anaemic, they are prone to miscarriages and low birth weight of babies. She said IFA deficiencies also contribute to high maternal mortality rates.

Therefore, it is very important to provide iron and folic acid supplements to our girls because we already work mostly with adolescents. As AGLIT, we are currently meeting local leaders to sensitize the girls out there, Bande said.

We are therefore, pleading with the chiefs, area development committees (ADCs) members and church leaders to take the message to the people so that more girls should come and receive the tablets which will benefit them, she added.

According to WHO, Iron and folic acid supplementation is recommended as a public health intervention in menstruating women to improve their haemoglobin concentration and iron status, thereby reducing the risk of anaemia.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA