Nutrition

Iron deficiency anaemia: assessment, prevention and control

A guide for programme managers

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Authors:
World Health Organization

Publication details

Number of pages: 114
Publication date: 2001
Languages: English
WHO reference number: WHO/NHD/01.3

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Overview

This document deals primarily with indicators for monitoring interventions to combat iron deficiency, including iron deficiency anaemia, but it also reviews the current methods of assessing and preventing iron deficiency in the light of recent significant scientific advances. Criteria for defining IDA, and the public severity of anaemia based on prevalence estimates, are provided. Approaches to obtaining dietary information, and guidance in designing national iron deficiency prevention programmes, are presented.

Strategies for preventing iron deficiency through food-based approaches, i.e. dietary improvement or modification and fortification, and a schedule for using iron supplements to control iron deficiency and to treat mild-to-moderate iron deficiency anaemia, are discussed. For each strategy, desirable actions are outlined and criteria are suggested for assessment of the intervention. Attention is given to micronutrient complementarities in programme implementation, e.g., the particularly close link between the improvement of iron status and that of vitamin A.

Finally, this document recommends action-oriented research on the control of iron deficiency, providing guidance in undertaking feasibility studies on iron fortification in most countries.