Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System (VMNIS)

Worldwide prevalence on anaemia 1993-2005

Summary of the worldwide prevalence on anaemia

The WHO Global Database on Anaemia is the only source of anaemia estimates at country, regional and global level. The indicator used is the blood concentration of haemoglobin and the thresholds to establish normal ranges of haemoglobin for the different physiological groups of populations (children, adolescents, adults and pregnant women) were defined at a WHO Expert Consultation held in Geneva in 1992.

The anaemia estimates are provided by region for all population groups, based on data collected from 1993 to 2005. The data coverage is about 70% or more for preschool-age children (76.1%), pregnant (69%) and non-pregnant (73.5%). Coverage for the remaining population groups is much lower; 33% for school-age children, 40.2% for men and 39.1% for elderly. Overall, the coverage for the general population is 48.8%.

The global prevalence of anaemia for the general population is 24.8% and it is estimated that 1620 million people are affected by anaemia.

In preschool-age children, the anaemia prevalence is 47.4%, affecting 293 million children globally. The highest prevalence is in Africa (67.6%) and South-East Asia (65.5%). In the Eastern Mediterranean, the prevalence is 46% and around 20% in the other WHO regions, the Americas, Europe and Western Pacific.

For pregnant women the prevalence is slightly lower; however, its distribution by region follows the same trend as the one observed for preschool-age children. The highest prevalence is in Africa (57.1%) and in South-East Asia (48.2%), followed by the Eastern Mediterranean (44.2%), Western Pacific (30.7%), and the European Americas regions, 25% and 24.1% respectively. Overall, 56.4 million pregnant women are anaemic (41.8% prevalence globally).

In non-pregnant women, the prevalence of anaemia is slightly lower than in pregnant women. Overall, 468.4 million non-pregnant women are anaemic (30.2% prevalence globally). The highest prevalence is found in Africa (47.5%) and in South-East Asia (35.7%). In the Eastern Mediterranean region, the prevalence is 32.4%, 20.5% in the Western Pacific region, 19% in the European region, and 17.8% in the Americas.

Additionally, the global prevalence of anaemia in school-age children is 25.4%, in men 12.7% and in elderly 23.9%.