‘Women, children suffer from anemia due to iron deficiency’

31Mar 2020
James Kandoya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
‘Women, children suffer from anemia due to iron deficiency’

The WHO estimates that 41 per cent of women and 27 per cent of children suffer from anemia due to iron deficiency. The consequences of iron deficiency anemia include suboptimal mental and motor development in young children, increased risk of maternal mortality, and decreased-

Managing director, Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) Dr Germana Leyna.

-economic productivity of adults.

Recent research also provides evidence that maternal iron deficiency in pregnancy increases neonatal morbidity and mortality. It is estimated that from 2014 to 2025 the lives of 26, 290 Tanzanian women will be lost due to maternal anemia related diseases and iron deficiency while 209, 638 children under five will be lost due to vitamin ‘A’ deficiency.

Managing director, Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) Dr Germana Leyna, disclosed this at the 6th annual agriculture policy conference (AAPC) held recently in the country’s capital—Dodoma.

He warned that if there was no change or improvement in anemia treatment among adult women then US $ 1.428 billion would be lost in future economic productivity related to anemia.

In his presentation, “Linking Agriculture Production Efforts to Consumption Patterns of Fruits and Vegetables to Address Micronutrients Deficiency in Tanzania” Dr Leyna said the country will also lose US $ 950 million in future economic productivity related to iodine deficiency.

He mentioned some reasons contributing to that as low dietary diversity (affordability and availability) and inadequate micronutrient status of pregnant and lactating women (inadequate stores and intake for the child).

Others are complementary foods with too low nutrient-content, and -density; too early introduction (watery porridges, foods with limited nutrient-content) and poor bioavailability of micronutrients (absorption inhibitors, especially in plant-source based diet.

“Promotion of production and consumption of fruits and vegetables can largely avert many deaths and other sufferings from micronutrient deficiencies” he suggested.

“In order to promote and support the fruit and vegetable consumption from field to table to address micronutrients deficiency in Tanzania, it is important to capitalize on agricultural programmes and projects that are already underway,” he added.

According to him, strategies for improving the nutritional status of population should include efforts to increase dietary diversity.

While agricultural production is a necessary component of an adequate food supply, it is not sufficient. A well-functioning food value chain is also necessary to deliver food to the consumer.

Nutrition officer from the World Food Programme (WFP) Jane Shosho said the foundation of a healthy future for every child is the 1,000 days between a mother's pregnancy and her child's second birthday.

She said the right nutrition during this critical period puts a child on track to be stronger, healthier and ready to learn.

The officer noted that investing in between food production and health/nutrition outcomes can lead to win-win for women to provide for the food security, access to clean water and better hygiene to improve health and nutrition of their families.

She said also increase access to and year-round availability of high-nutrient content food and improves nutrition knowledge among rural households to enhance dietary diversity.