A doctor in Pune is on a mission to make Ahilyadevi High school in Pune anaemia free. Dr Prachi Sathe, ICU Director at Ruby Hall, in coordination with the school and Deccan education school’s executive council had conducted a survey to check presence of anaemia in the girl students of the school.
The result of extensive survey of 2,000 girls in the school done in the last academic year was released by Fergusson College’s statistical department on Saturday. The survey has found that around 40 per cent of girls in the school were moderately anaemic with haemoglobin level less than 11.
After the extensive survey of 2,000 girls in the school and a vigorous implementation of action plan in the last academic year, the second phase of the mission which is named as ‘Anaemia free Ahilyadevi School’, would soon start from this academic year.
Sathe always encountered girls fainting at school programs. “At school gatherings or at Republic Day celebrations in school I had often seen few girls fainting and falling down. This is where the idea struck my mind. I chose Ahilyadevi school as the school is representative of students from all socioeconomic strata,” said Sathe.
When nutrition levels in students at government schools are regularly checked, there is no binding mechanism for private schools to carry out such exercise. Ahilyadevi High School for Girls established in 1939 is one of the reputed vernacular medium schools managed by Deccan Education Society in Pune.
The first meet to explain parent’s about the mission was organised in June last year. Haemoglobin checking of girls and mothers was done in September 2016. An extensive questionnaire was given to girls. The questions were asked on weekly diet pattern, exercise schedule, major ailments, minor ailments, menstruation cycle and visits to doctors.
Sulabha Shinde, Principal of Ahilyadevi High School, said, “Iron supplements to those girls who were found to be anaemic during the survey were given in second semester of last academic year. We had procured those supplements through Pune Municipal Corporation. Also, a dedicated change in the mid-day meal diet was done. We are planning to evaluate the result of these programs implemented last year and will device the further strategy accordingly.”
“The statistical analysis confirms to the national figures about anaemia in adolescent girls. Presence of anaemia in mother’s underlines that women should take care of their nutritional status,” added Sathe.
The analysis of the survey shows that more than 80 per cent of the girls, who are anaemic are not consulting doctors. Only three percent of the girls were found to be taking good nutritional food, while around 35 per cent were found to be having poor nutritional food. The survey also found that around 40 per cent of girls in every class had haemoglobin less than 11.
Deepa Kulkarni, professor at Fergusson College, who coordinated the survey analysis, said, “The survey analysis found that presence of anaemia was more in mothers of these girls. There are around 60 per cent of mothers whose haemoglobin is less than 11.”
“Anaemia is associated with delayed development and attention deficit disorder. Many a time parents and girls are not aware about the importance of a nutritious diet and we had specifically arranged workshops for the same. Anaemia is a serious health concern in our country. If we fail to treat anaemia, we fail to produce an efficient workforce,” added Sathe.
Teachers of the school said that the parents and girls do not look at anaemia as a disease. The teachers noticed a careless attitude by some of the parents and girls. Advaita Umranikar, a teacher at Ahilyadevi School, who is coordinator at the program said, “For those who were acutely anaemic, we were giving them iron supplements in school itself. Many parents and even girls were hesitant to take the medicines and failed to understand its long term repercussions.”
Dr Swati Joglekar and Savita Joshi DES school committee members were also actively involved in the project.