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A united call to action

Nepal drastically reduces the prevalence of anaemia in pregnant women in the past five years from 75% to 42%

In 1998, anaemia among pregnant women in Nepal was alarmingly high at 75%, and coverage of iron/folic acid supplementation was low.

The National Anaemia Control Strategy and Iron Intensification Programme was developed in 2003 to increase the coverage and compliance of iron supplementation along with complementary measures such as deworming of pregnant women and dietary diversification, food fortification, and promotion of maternal care practices. The Government started the programme with five districts in 2003 and has expanded to 46 districts as of 2007 with the support from Micronutrient Initiative, UNICEF and WHO. The Government aims to cover all 75 districts by 2010.

A community health volunteer gives Sushmita Sumbhamphe, who is nine months pregnant, vitamin A, iron and folic acid supplements, during a home visit in the remote, mountainous eastern region of Nepal.  UNICEF/NYHQ2007-1493/Khemka

To improve access, female community health volunteers were trained to distribute the iron supplements. A strong monitoring system was put in place by using community-level micronutrient registers to track pregnant women. In five districts, a school-based monitoring system was also piloted, whereby school children were mobilized to ensure early identification of pregnant women.

According to the Demographic Health Survey in 2006, the national coverage of iron supplementation has increased from 23% to 59%. Because of these improvements and other complementary measures, anaemia in pregnant women has been reduced from 75% to 42%.