The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, launched the National Girls Iron-Folic Acid Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS) programme yesterday to provide drug supplements to women, adolescent girls and children to help reduce the prevailing high incidence of anaemia in the country.

The first phase of the programme, which was launched in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region, is to reach about 360,000 in-school adolescent girls and close to 600,000 out-of-school girls in four regions in the country.

The beneficiary regions are the Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Volta regions.

Statistics indicate that anaemia contributes to 20 per cent of all maternal deaths in the country, as four in 10 women are said to have anaemia, while the rate is 48 per cent in adolescent girls and 50 per cent in women.

According to the 2014 demographic health survey, about one million out of two million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 are anaemic.
The programme has been designed to provide supplements to adolescent girls both in school and out of school aged between 10 to 19 years using a combined Iron and Folic Acid tablet.

Consequences of anaemia

In her keynote address, Mrs Akufo-Addo said anaemia in adolescents limited their development, learning ability, increased their vulnerability to dropping out of school and reduced concentration in daily takes, physical fitness and work productivity.

She said anaemia deprived adolescent girls of the ability to attain their fullest potential.

“The best solution is to give them nutrient-rich food with additional meat, liver, chicken, egg, fish. Providing iron folate supplements routinely to these girls is the most immediate measures that has many health and developmental benefits,” she stated.

Ghana Health Service

The Director General of Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, said anaemia in pregnancy was a key challenge in efforts to reduce maternal mortality.

For his part, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, said the introduction of the GIFTS programme to help reduce the speed of anaemia, was highly commendable.

He entreated the organisers to deepen the education and sensitisation of the drug supplement in schools and health facilities to increase its patronage to help realise the desired effect.

Source : graphic.com.gh

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