Authors : Varghese JS, Swaminathan S, Kurpad AV, Thomas T
Publication Year : 2019
Anaemia prevalence in pregnant women of India declined from 57.9% to 50.3% from National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-3 to NFHS-4. However, over the course of that decade, the uptake of iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation for 100 days of pregnancy improved by only 15%. To understand demand side risk factors of anaemia specifically related to IFA intake, an in-depth survey was conducted on pregnant women (n = 436) in 50 villages and wards of Sirohi district of Rajasthan, India. At the demand side, consistent IFA consumption in the previous trimester was inversely and strongly associated with anaemia (OR: 0.26, 95% CI: 0.12, 0.55). Reasons for inconsistent consumption included not registering to antenatal clinic, not receiving IFA tablets from the health worker and perceived lack of need. At the supply side, an analysis of IFA stock data at various levels of the health care (n = 168) providers from primary to tertiary levels showed that 14 out of 52 villages surveyed did not have access to IFA tablets. The closest availability of an IFA tablet for 16 villages, was more than 5 km away. To improve the uptake of IFA supplementation and thereby reduce iron deficiency anaemia in pregnant women, a constant supply of IFA at the village or sub-centre level, where frontline workers can promote uptake, should be ensured.