Tamil Nadu's Virudhunagar stirs up success with 'Irumbu Penmani' ingredients
Muthulakshmi is eight months pregnant now and is expecting a bundle of joy to enter her life bursting with health soon.
VIRUDHUNAGAR: G Muthulakshmi was devastated when she was told her haemoglobin level was just 6.9 gm/dl (normal level for women: 11.6 to 15 gm/dl).
Not that the 32-year-old believed that her nutrition or health parameters were of the highest order, but another life was growing inside her and having such a deficient haemoglobin level during pregnancy set the alarm bells ringing. Even after undergoing a blood transfusion twice, her level just touched 7.8 gm/dl. However, that was all several months ago.
Muthulakshmi is eight months pregnant now and is expecting a bundle of joy to enter her life bursting with health soon. Thanks to the Irumbu Penmani initiative, her Hb reading has touched 12 gm/dl.
District collector J Meghanath Reddy kickstarted the initiative in October last to address the biggest risk factor that causes maternal death, anaemia. Dr M Thilagar, assistant programme manager, of the National Health Mission in Virudhunagar, said if a pregnant woman is anaemic, it will affect the growth of the fetus. The anaemia could also cause prolonged postpartum haemorrhage putting the lives of both the mother and the baby in danger, he added. It is in this scenario that the Irumbu Penmani initiative brought in a significant reform in Virudhunagar.
"As a first step, the data of anaemic pregnant women in their second trimester will be collected from all 11 blocks in the district. Then, those with moderate and severe anaemia will be provided with a nutritional kit for three months. The kits distributed by village health nurses comprise raisins, dry figs, red poha, iron syrup, and a protein mix," Thilagar added.
Noting that the kit ingredients we zeroed in after consultations with expert medical officers, V Yasodhamani, deputy director of health services, Virudhunagar, said the feedback from the beneficiaries was highly positive. During its inception, the initiative focused on 755 pregnant women -- 741 with Hb level 7 gm/dl - 9.9 gm/dl and six women with HB level 4 gm/dl - 6.9 gm/dl. Official sources said after consuming the kit ingredients for just two months, the beneficiaries exhibited a mean Hb increase of 1.37 gm/dl.
Village health nurse B Maheshwari (47), who has been working at Vetrilaioorani health sub-centre for the past 22 years, has been delivering the kits to 11 beneficiaries at their doorstep in three villages since October and recording their HB levels every month. "I have witnessed a sea change in the last few months. Before consuming the products, D Asaikani (28), one of the pregnant women I am supplying the kit to, had a Hb level of 7.2 gm/dl, but the figure shot up to 11.4 in the recent test. She had also undergone a blood transfusion once during the period. Asaikani works in a firecracker unit and this is her third pregnancy," she added.
Not just Muthulakshmi and Asaikani, all the beneficiaries are seeing improvement in their Hb readings. Muthulakshmi consumed the products regularly for over three months and now has a Hb reading of 12 gm/dl. "My husband works in a matchbox company and we were not able to afford expensive food like figs during my first pregnancy. But, thanks to the Irumbu Penmani initiative, I now receive premium food products free of cost," Muthulakshmi said.