By Sydney Chaima
Ntchisi, June 9, Mana: The Adolescent Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (ANSA) has embarked on a program of providing anaemia drugs known as Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) to young girls aged 10 – 19 years in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Chilooko in Ntchisi.
The girls are from 11 Village Development Committees (VDCS) across Chilooko area where ANSA project is being implemented
Each adolescent girl is supposed to take one tablet once a week and another deworming tablet in six months from the first dosage.
The IFA drugs are said to, among others, improve concentration in class, feeling stronger and less tired as well as regularisation of menstruation.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) Senior Group Village Kasiya of Mpalo area where some of his subjects are beneficiaries of the program, welcomed the development saying it will help to fight anaemia complications in the area.
“There is hope that when this is adhered to girls in my area will not be anaemic as the drugs contain iron which is vital in blood formation. In addition to that their energy levels and output will be increased from day to day work,” said Chief Siyani.
The chief, however, asked that the program to be extended to young boys also as they too face similar problems of lacking iron in the body.
Farmers Union District Coordinator for Ntchisi Sangayemwe Kausiwa said they decided to come up with the activity after noting that mostly it is young girls who lose blood when they have reached puberty hence need to have a mechanism to restore their blood.
Kausiwa said they have the desire to roll out the activity in other TAs in the district and not only Chilooko.
“When girls have reached the puberty stage mostly they lose alot of blood, for this reason we as Farmers Union of Malawi have decided to come up with this idea of providing iron tablets to young girls between 10-19 years of age so that they should be protected from anaemia.
“We would also love to include boys as beneficiaries but currently our main focus is on girls. We will sit down with our donors and see if we can also incorporate boys in his activity,” said Kausiwa.
Ntchisi District Principal Nutrition and HIV/Aids Coordinator Edina Nakanga said adolescent girls are being targeted because 23 percent of Malawi’s population is adolescents hence targeting the group.
World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that to prevent, control and treat anemia in adolescents and women there should be Iron and Folic acid if the anemia prevalence is 20% or higher.
Nakanga said those who may choose not to take part in Iron Folic supplementation program may result in missing out on the benefits of the iron and folic acid supplements.
“Malawi’s one third of adolescents girls suffer anaemia and we, therefore, urge young girls earmarked for this activity to go to their respective venues to take these drugs so that they benefit by having improved learning capacity, physical work capacity and build up iron in the body,” said Nakanga.
The rate of anaemia in women and girls in the reproductive age in Ntchisi is at 24.6 percent against a nation prevalence of 33. 5 percent which is quite high.
The Iron Folic supplementation ( IFA) program is funded by the Japanese Development Fund through World Bank and the government of Malawi and Farmers Union with support from Ciat and Harvest Plus.