The programme dubbed: “Girls Iron and Folic Acid Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS)” involves the free distribution of iron and folic acid supplements to girls in Junior and senior high schools in the Northern Region. Current data indicate that four out of every 10 women are anaemic in the country with about half of all adolescent girls and pregnant women being anaemic. GIFTS is being implemented by the MOH, MOE, and MOFA in collaboration with the UNICEF amongst other partners.
A programme to address anaemia amongst school girls to improve on their concentration levels in daily tasks and learning ability as well as overall development has been launched.
The programme dubbed: “Girls Iron and Folic Acid Tablet Supplementation (GIFTS)” involves the free distribution of iron and folic acid supplements to girls in Junior and senior high schools in the Northern Region.
Out-of- school girls will receive the supplements at health facilities in the region, while menstruating women of 20 years and above were encouraged to buy the supplements at pharmacies for consumption to boost their nutritional status and reduce anaemia.
The GIFTS programme is being implemented by the Ministries of Health, Education, and Food and Agriculture in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) amongst other partners.
Dr Samuel Kwashie, the Northern Regional Director of Health Services, whose speech was read on his behalf during the launch of the programme in Tamale on Wednesday, said the supplements would help improve on iron levels in girls to help them stay alert in class and have the energy to perform physical activities.
Current data indicate that four out of every 10 women are anaemic in the country with about half of all adolescent girls and pregnant women being anaemic.
In adolescents, anaemia is associated with limitations in their development, reduction in concentration in daily tasks, learning ability, increase vulnerability to dropping out of school and reduced physical fitness and work productivity.
Adolescence is an opportune time for interventions to address anaemia as it is a time for rapid growth and development, and a critical time for laying the nutrition foundation for child bearing.
Dr Kwashie said: “Giving adolescents iron-rich foods is the best way to improve their iron levels but it is also important to supplement it by providing the girls with iron folic supplements routinely for immediate health and development benefits.”
Alhaji Mohammed Haroun, the Northern Regional Director of Education, said the intervention would reduce the school drop-out rates of girls, improve their academic performance and ultimately create a more productive labour force necessary for economic development.
Madam Margaret Gwada, Chief of Field Office of UNICEF, whose speech was read on her behalf, advised beneficiaries to observe hygiene as they consumed the iron folic acid supplements to ensure holistic development.