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General News Sun, 29 Feb 2004

Media to help in the campaign to control anaemia

Accra, Feb. 27, GNA - A review of the health, disease profiles and pathology reports in selected hospitals in Ghana ranks anaemia as the fourth leading reason for hospital admissions and the second cause of death.

Mrs. Rosanna Agble, Head of the Nutrition Unit of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said 83. 5 per cent of pre-school children, 71.3 per cent school age children, 64.5 per cent of pregnant women and 59 per cent of lactating women are anaemic.

Mrs. Agble was speaking at a media orientation on Anaemia Control in Accra to prepare the media adequately to perform their role in the campaign to combat the disease.

Anaemia occurs as a result of reduced amount of haemoglobin in the blood that is below acceptable levels.

It is caused, among other things, by inadequate intake of iron and other nutrients, poor absorption of iron, malaria, parasitic worms, infections and genetic disorders.

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It causes damage to the brain of the foetus early in pregnancy, and impairs both physical growth and mental development in young children, while anaemic pregnant women die unnecessarily.

Mrs. Agble said an analysis of the economic impact of anaemia in Ghana estimated that from 2001 to 2005 Ghana's female workforce would lose over 141.6 billion in economic productivity due to anaemia. She said some of the signs were weakness and getting tired easily, dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations, pale palms and conjunctiva.

Mrs. Agble said the GHS' current focus was on the first phase of the anaemia strategy focused on pregnant women, adding that the childhood anemia control effort was planned to provide iron supplementation along with de-worming interventions in schools. She said an anaemia control programme would be launched on March 10, 2004 at the Maamobi Polyclinic to get the message out to the public about how to control and prevent anaemia.

Mrs. Agble urged pregnant women to visit the antenatal clinic as soon as they knew they were pregnant, took iron and folic acid tablets daily, eat fruit with meals and foods rich in irons, as well as sleep under insecticide treated nets.

She called on the media to help carry the message across. Mrs. Kate Quarshie, Co-ordinator of the Anaemia Control Programme expressed regret that Ghana had never tackled anaemia as a major health issue as it was done for malaria, adding that special efforts had been made to inform policy makers on the importance of addressing anaemia. She advised the public to ensure that they kept clean environments, since anaemia was also induced by poor environmental sanitation, and wore sandals to prevent hookworm infestation.

Source: GNA
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