One half of Lankan children suffering from iron deficiency


By Don Asoka Wijewardena

About 50 per cent of school children are suffering from iron deficiency in Sri Lanka. The Health Ministry has decided to add iron to common salt to prevent iron deficiency and it has already discussed plan with salt producing companies. In addition, iron tablets will also be given to schoolchildren found to be anaemic.

Director General Health Services Dr. Palitha Maheepala told The Island yesterday that an extensive survey conducted by the Ministry had revealed that about 50 per cent of student schoolchildren were suffering from iron deficiency. The main reason for this pathetic situation was that the students were not being given healthy food, he said.

He pointed out that a majority of students were rushed to school after eating some pastry or bread which contained a high percentage of wheat flour which did not contain iron. Even after school, students were had a hurried meal and to rush to private tuition classes. When they finally returned home it was about 7.00 p.m. That routine had to be stopped if the country was to produce a healthy student population.

Dr. Maheepala added that the Health Ministry had decided to mix iron with common salt and would take action to give iron tablets to the anaemic students. Lack of iron in the human body could cause numerous health complications. It was found that female students were prone to anaemia more than their male counterparts, he said.

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