An alarming situation prevails in the ‘steel city’ where some 28,000-odd students, mostly girls of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) schools were suffering from ‘iron deficiency’ resulting in a high rate of absenteeism.
Though no official or the elected representative took serious note of the issue despite warnings by the medical community, the State Government has, at last, initiated a project – Anemia Prophylaxis- to find out the intensity of the problem and an associate professor of Pediatrics in the Andhra Medical College Dr P Venugopal was named in-charge of the project.
During the first phase of the project in which 28 of the 97 GVMC schools were surveyed, the team found that about 90 percent of the students were facing several health problems due to iron deficiency resulting in absenteeism among them.
The girl students of Classes 8 to 10 are facing gynaec problems.
“This is a serious problem of iron deficiency among the children and we recommended to the authorities to address it.
Lack of proper nutritious food and worms infestation has brought down the percentage of the hemoglobin from 12 to 7 percent in their blood,” Dr Venugopal said.
He said that the problem would become more serious and the students would lose their concentration as well as mental balance if it was not attended to immediately.
Iron tablets should be given to each student after lunch and GVMC has agreed to provide six Auxilliary Nursing Midwives (ANMs) to assist the medical team in the first phase but they did not provide them.
“We are interested to complete the project and need GVMC cooperation in this regard,’ Venugopal said. When contacted, the teachers, while admitting that there was a problem, said that the students were not active and majority of them very poor in Mathamatics.
The number of absentees were also on rise citing health problems, the teachers said.
Venugopal said they were keen to show the results of the treatment. “Iron tablets should be given to the students every day without fail and we will show the performance of the students after the course,” he said.
The project is being implemented in and around GVMC covering 135 schools. Due to the lack of staff and poor response from the GVMC the project is not progressing.An Indexpress report