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Original Research

Evaluation of Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation program for adolescents in rural Pondicherry, India

Prasad Tukaram Dhikale, E Suguna, A Thamizharasi, Amol R Dongre.


Background: Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) program is a newly initiated program in Pondicherry. It was considered crucial to explore the compliance and “for and against” forces for it so as to facilitate its future implementation in a community setting.

Objectives: To evaluate the recently initiated WIFS program for government school children.

Materials and Methods: It was a mixed-methods study design, where quantitative (survey of students) and qualitative (key informant interviews of teacher in charge of WIFS, health assistants, and auxiliary nurse midwife) methods were used.

Results: Out of the 345 participants of quantitative survey, there were 110 boys and 235 girls. Majority (85.8%) of the students reported to consume four tablets of Iron folic acid (IFA) in the past 4 weeks. The major reasons for noncompliance reported were absenteeism (55.1%), powdery tablet (22.4%), and side effects (22.5%). Most motivating role in taking IFA tablet regularly was played by the teacher. The percentage of students who correctly reported at least three iron-rich food was 40%. Significantly girls had better knowledge about symptoms of anemia and iron-rich diet than boys. Major positive factors for the program reported by the students and key informants were benefits such as an improved sense of well-being, motivation by parents, teachers, and friends, heath education by the local medical officer and health staff, regular supply of tablets, and demand from private schools for IFA tablets. Major negative factors for the program reported were fear of adverse effects such as nausea, attribution of abdominal pain due to other causes of IFA tablets, and extra workload on teachers.

Conclusion: We found a good compliance to IFA tablet consumption. In order to improve the program further, awareness about side effects on IFA tablet consumption and health education about iron-rich diet should be strengthened.

Key words: Adolescent, anemia, evaluation, Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation

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