Chandigarh :  The Chief Secretary, Ms Vini Mahajan, on Saturday launched ‘anaemia mukt Punjab’ campaign to free the adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women of anemia in the state.

Chairing a review meeting of Health and Family Welfare, Social Security, Women and Child Development and School Education departments on reducing anaemia in the state, the Chief Secretary deputed all three departments to implement the drive with a focus on testing and treating children, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women on a priority basis.

She also called for a concerted campaign to inculcate vigorous behaviour change communication and lifestyle modification among the beneficiaries.

Ms Mahajan said anaemia is a major issue, especially among pregnant and lactating women besides adolescent girls but is easily preventable through a widely-practised strategy combining iron and folic acid supplements and proper nutritional diet.

She asked the three implementing departments to provide supplements of iron-folic acid (IFA) tablets as well as fortification of mid-day meal to children in the schools and anganwari centres.

Besides, she directed the Health department to cover all private schools as well under the coordinated campaign against anaemia in children.

Devising the modalities for all success of ‘anaemia mukt Punjab’ campaign, the Chief Secretary instructed the Principal Health Secretary, Hussan Lal, to ensure anaemia testing in all the health institutions besides launching an awareness campaign at the Covid vaccination centres in the state.

Emphasising coverage of all the adolescent girl students of 9 to 12 standard, the Chief Secretary asked the Health department to provide IFA tablets in all schools, anganwari centres and Asha workers.

She also directed the three departments involved in this drive to share and upload the data regarding testing of anaemic children and ensure 100 per cent distribution of IFA tablets to the beneficiaries in the rural and urban areas.

Principal Secretary Social Security, Women and Child Development, Raji P. Shrivastava, informed that testing of anaemia would be planned in coordination with the Health and School Education departments at school level as well as in rural and urban areas. She informed that about 7.27 lakh children between the age of six months and 5 years besides about 2.06 lakh pregnant and lactating women had already been enrolled in the anganwari centres. They can be covered under the drive by ensuring them uninterrupted supply of IFA tablets in the fight against anaemia.

She said the department has introduced revised recipes to improve the nutritional quality of supplementary nutrition. Besides, a pilot project on fortification of rice was also ongoing in Moga, Ferozepur and Ludhiana districts. In addition to this, another pilot project has also been planned in collaboration with UNDP, aimed at designing and implementing a holistic crackdown on anaemia in 100 villages across three districts in the state.

It was resolved in the meeting that the responsibility of administration of IFA tablets would vest primarily with the Health department, but the School Education department as well as Social Security and Women and Child development department would take steps to coordinate and improve coverage at the grassroots level.

The Chief Secretary asked the concerned departments to sensitise the CDPOs, supervisors, anganwari workers, Asha workers, ANMs and teachers to chalk out behaviour change communication techniques and advocate lifestyle modification among the children as well as adolescent girls while administering IFA tablets and supplementary nutrition during the drive.

She directed the Health department to ensure Covid vaccination of all the anganwari workers as well as the school teachers and staffers so that they could easily and safely interact with children without the fear of spreading virus infection or contracting it themselves.

Principal Secretary Health informed that the pharmacists would be designated with RBSK teams for distribution of IFA tablets and there would be no shortage of these tablets as tenders have already been floated. He said the outcome of the state-wide campaign would be tracked in order to evaluate its effectiveness.

Secretary School Education Krishan Kumar and Director Social Security, Women and Child Development Vipul Ujwal also attended the meeting.

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