Significant decline in anemia rates in women and children in last 12 years

Anemia, based on World Health Organization (WHO) categorization, is a severe public health issue affecting more than 40 percent of the world population.

It is recorded that the anemia among pregnant women was lower than in non-pregnant women despite the higher requirement of iron during pregnancy.

According the National Nutrition Survey (NNC) report, Bhutan has made significant gains in reducing the national anemia prevalence in the past 12 years.

Since the national anemia study done in 2003, prevalence of anemia among children less than 5 years has dropped to a little over half of its 2003 level. Similarly, anemia among non-pregnant women aged 10 to 49 years old had fallen over by over a third of its 2003 level.

Report states that a little less than half the children were found be to anemic nationally. It was also recorded that the anemia among children in Bhutan represents a severe public health issue of prevalence of 40 percent and above.

The anemia prevalence were slightly greater in the western region though it did not differ much between rural and urban areas for the children below 5 years of age where the children in a poorer families were more anemic by one third more than the children from wealthier families.

Overall a less than one third of the adolescent girls aged 10 to 19 years in Bhutan were anemic but no variation is seen in anemia rates between rich and poorer families.

More than a third of non-pregnant women aged 15-49 were anemic, which is about 5 percentage points higher than the global prevalence for non-pregnant women. The western region has the highest case of anemia at 39.8 percent and the eastern region recorded the lowest at 29.0 percent.

Whereas, in pregnant women, there were no severe anemia cases recorded. Regionally eastern region had the highest percentage of anemic pregnant women. The number of anemia cases is slightly greater in urban areas compared to rural areas.

Anemia prevalence for pregnant women in Bhutan is about 14 percentage points lower than the global prevalence for the pregnant women which is 41.8 percent. It is seen that the prevalence of anemia increased as pregnancy progressed.

Anemia among children aged 6-59 months dropped from 80.6 percent in 2003 to 43.8 percent in 2015. Among non-pregnant women, it has dropped to 36.1 percent from 54.8 percent in the same period.

However, the anemia rates were slightly higher in urban areas than in rural areas for all groups in the survey.


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