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Evaluation of Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation Programme for adolescents in rural schools of Kannur, North Kerala, India: A cross-sectional study

Sarada AK, Thilak SA.


Background: Iron deficiency is the major cause for anemia and widespread nutritional deficiency disorder in India. In 2013, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) Programme to reduce the prevalence and severity of nutritional anemia in adolescent population. Since it is a relatively new program, we conducted this survey to evaluate current status of the program implementation in the schools, Kannur, India.

Objective: To evaluate the current status of WIFS Programme implementation in the schools of Kannur, north Kerala, India.

Materials and Methods: It was a cross-sectional study carried out in schools under the rural field practice area of Community Medicine Department, Kannur Medical College, Kannur. Two schools were selected randomly for the data collection and a sample of 524 students and 39 teachers were studied for a period of 1 month. A pretested, semi-structured, self-administered questionnaire was administered and descriptive statistics and associations were analyzed.

Results: Out of the 524 students, 50.4% were males and 49.6% females, 77.3% of them had not consumed iron and folic acid (IFA) tablets regularly—main reasons were feeling healthy and parent’s resistance. Awareness about anemia and its symptoms was good but significant difference existed between the schools. Twenty-three percent had side effects after IFA tablets intake and common side effect was stomach pain. All 39 teachers opined WIFS Programme was useful and 90% teachers counseled the students. Fifty percent teachers told they faced resistance from parents.

Conclusion: Awareness about anemia was good but WIFS implementation in schools was not regular. There is a need to strengthen the program by giving proper training to the teachers and by giving health education to the parents and students about the benefits of WIFS.

Key words: Adolescents, weekly iron and folic acid supplementation, anemia, evaluation

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