Anaemia, a condition affecting learners in schools, children below five and pregnant mothers. It is a condition in which the blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. Beatrice Nyangoma explains how anaemia can be mitigated.
Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or the haemoglobin concentration within them is lower than normal. Haemoglobin is needed to carry oxygen and if you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or not enough haemoglobin, there will be a decreased capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.
The World Health Organization notes that anaemia is a serious global public health problem that particularly affects young children and pregnant women. WHO estimates that 42% of children less than 5 years of age and 40% of pregnant women worldwide are anaemic.
Relatedly, according to the 2016 Uganda Demographic Health Survey, young girls aged 15 to 20 years of age are at high risk of getting anemia. One in four girls in this age group suffers from anemia.
This means that in a class of 40 female students, ten are likely to suffer from anemia. Anemia is almost invisible but it is a problem that keeps students from taking advantage of their schooling.
One way to ensure that learners perform well is by helping them prevent anemia.
Anaemia has symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath, among others.
The optimal haemoglobin concentration needed to meet physiologic needs varies by age, sex, the elevation of residence, smoking habits and pregnancy status.
The most common causes of anaemia include nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron deficiency, though deficiencies in folate, vitamins B12 and A are also important causes. Infectious diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and parasitic infections are also known to cause the problem.
Dr Kyosabire Joshua says that anaemia among learners and the general population can be prevented through the consumption of these particular foods such as;
- Leafy greens. Leafy greens, especially dark ones, for iron.
- Meat and poultry. All meat and poultry contain heme iron.
- Fortified foods.
- Nuts and seeds.
Robinson Nsumba Lyazi an educationist says that most students perform poorly due to anaemia. He says that whereas it is normal for an individual to get exhausted, some of the students get too exhausted to follow what is being taught.