Women and children may soon benefit from Ayurvedic supplements at anganwadis
Ayurvedic supplements like Krimikuthar Ras, Annabhedi Chendooram and Drakshavaleha are likely to be distributed to women and children in anganwadi centers by the Center under the take-home ration (THR) component. The Ministry of Women and Child Development said supplements will be distributed as part of the integrated child development program to combat anaemia. This decision follows successful pilot projects in Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
WCD officials said the ministry conducts a third-party review of the supplements, with the help of the Indian Council of Medical Research before distribution. Currently, the government is distributing iron and folic acid tablets in the anganwadis, in addition to fortified rice under the Poshan program to combat malnutrition.
In Karnataka, between 2016 and 2019, a pilot project was conducted in Hudali Primary Health Care (PHC), showed positive results. In some cases, officials said, it fell from 30% to 4% in a year.
In the pilot project, in 26 villages and 122 institutions, including 39 schools and 83 anganwadis, school children and children aged 4 to 16 were screened for anemia. About 662 camps were held and 80 students suffered from severe anemia and other health problems; 121 students were referred to higher centers.
The students were then given Ayurvedic supplements like Krimikuthar Ras, Punarnava Mandoor and Drakshavaleha tablets. As a result, 50 institutions, including 20 schools and 30 anganwadis, have been declared anaemia-free.
Official data from the WCD ministry showed that in 2016, out of 5,092 students screened, 1,570 (or 30.83%) were found to be anemic. After the drugs, only 217 students, or 4.26%, still suffered from anemia. Similarly, in 2018, of the 6,663 students screened, 881 students or 13.22% of students were found to be anemic, which later went down to 1.81% or 121 students. In 2019, of the 7,115 students screened, 514 or 7.22% of the students were anemic, which then went down to 74 or 1.04%.
WHO data indicates that more than 50% of Indian children and women are anemic. NFHS-5 data shows that 35.5% of children under 5 in India are stunted and 19% are severely malnourished.
The center ran a similar program in Tamil Nadu, where 1,000 women with anemia in Nilgiri and Coimbatore regions received Ayurvedic supplements. Among women with severe anemia, where hemoglobin was less than 6g/decilitre, Ayurvedic tablets like Punarva Mandoor and Triphala Churna. Officials said that in 85.5% of women, the number of anemias had decreased. In some of these women, painful periods have stopped, officials said.
In addition to this, the National Siddha Institute also distributed Ayurvedic tablets to 2,300 anemic women and found that the number of anemias fell from 69% to 11%, officials said.
Another program in Jamnagar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Dang, Narmada, Bhavnagar and Dahod districts of Gujarat has shown positive results. Avantika Darji, co-director of ICDS program at WCD department of Gujarat government, said Ayurvedic components like Trikatu and Vidang for children, and Jeera and Musta Churna for women are part of their THR.