Prevalence of Anaemia in Men


    In News

    • Recently, critics have said that anaemia among adolescent girls and boys and women has been studied extensively but anaemia in men has been largely ignored.

    What is Anaemia?


    • Meaning
      • 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. 
    • Causes of Anaemia
      • The most common causes of anaemia include nutritional deficiencies which include iron deficiency. 
      • Though deficiencies in folate, vitamins B12 and A are also important causes; haemoglobinopathies; and infectious diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and parasitic infections. 
    • Symptoms
      • It includes fatigue, weakness, dizziness and drowsiness. 
      • Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable, with an increased risk of maternal and child mortality.
    • Treatment
      • While iron deficiency anaemia is the most common form and is relatively easy to treat through dietary changes.
      • Other forms of anaemia require health interventions that may be less accessible.
    • Implications
      • It affects cognitive and physical development in children and reduces productivity in adults.
      • Anaemia is an indicator of both poor nutrition and poor health.
      • It can also impact other global nutritional concerns such as stunting and wasting, low birth weight and childhood overweight and obesity due to lack of energy to exercise.
      • School performance in children and reduced work productivity in adults due to anaemia can have further social and economic impacts for the individual and family.  

    Data/Facts on Anaemia 

    • The Lancet Global Health 
      • It revealed that nearly one in four men (23.2%) in the age group 15-54 years in India were anaemic (mild, moderate, or severe).
    • WHO Estimates
      • WHO estimates that 42% of children less than 5 years of age and 40% of pregnant women worldwide are anaemic.
    • Fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 
      • It found that three out of ten men in rural areas were anaemic.
      • Prevalence of anaemia was more in rural areas than in urban areas.

    Government Interventions 

    • Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) 
      • It is a strategy with the target to reduce anaemia in women, children and adolescents in a life cycle approach. 
      • It includes Testing of anaemia using digital methods and point-of-care treatment.
    • Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS)
    • Government implements Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana and a Scheme for Adolescent Girls under the Umbrella of ICDS as targeted interventions to address the problem of malnutrition in the country.
    • POSHAN Abhiyaan: It is a flagship national nutrition mission to improve nutrition among children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
    • Introduction of community-based programmes
    • The introduction of community-based programmes for severe acute malnutrition, Jan Andolans, and community-based events, as well as the strengthening collaboration across departments has led to the implementation of a holistic approach to addressing malnutrition.
    • Mid-Day Meal Scheme: It is a school meal programme in India designed to better the nutritional standing of school-age children.

    Way forward/ Suggestions 

    • Biological viewpoint: Men are not so likely to be iron deficiency as men do not lose iron every month through menstruation. 
      • In fact, men do not lose iron unless they are bleeding from somewhere or have some abnormal haemoglobin like thalassemia or sickle cell anaemia. 
    • Extension of policies: The benefits of existing programmes and policies related to anaemia eradication should be extended to men as well.
    • Targeted interventions among susceptible groups of rural men are advised to reduce the prevalence of anaemia.
    • Need of accurate calculation measures: factor that might have overestimated the prevalence of anaemia in rural men is the use of capillary blood samples to measure haemoglobin.
      • Capillary blood samples inflate anaemia prevalence by as much as 33% to 50% in women.
    • Proper nutrition: The need of the hour is to increase the diversity of foods to improve iron and vitamin intake in men, without chemicals.