mhossain1_JonasGratzerLightRocketviaGettyImages_bangladeshnutritiondoctor Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Killing a Silent Killer of Women

A promising new study indicates that, with the right approach, anemia can be significantly reduced in as little as ten months. Given the prevalence and far-reaching consequences of this deadly nutritional disorder – which disproportionately affects women of child-bearing age in developing countries – implementation cannot come too soon.

DHAKA – In public health, discussions relating to women typically focus on maternal mortality, malnutrition, and more recently, sexual and reproductive health. But one facet of malnutrition – and a major killer of women – is often ignored: anemia.

Anemia is the world’s most common nutritional disorder, affecting more than 1.6 billion people. Broadly defined as an excessively low concentration of hemoglobin (an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen to tissues throughout the body) in the blood, anemia occurs either when there are too few red blood cells or when their oxygen-carrying capacity is compromised. It is caused by a deficiency in essential nutrients, most often iron, but also folic acid, vitamin B12, or vitamin A.

Although anemia can affect anyone, the majority of those affected are women of child-bearing age: in 2011, 29% of non-pregnant women worldwide (496 million people) and 38% of pregnant women (32.4 million people) aged 15-49 were anemic. The disorder was most prevalent in South Asia and Central and West Africa.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.



Register for FREE to access two premium articles per month.