Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation as an Anaemia-prevention Strategy in Women and Adolescent Girls
Anaemia affects one third of women of reproductive age (15–49 years) worldwide. It is a condition characterized mainly by low blood haemoglobin concentration, which decreases the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to tissues and results in symptoms such as fatigue and reduced capacity for physical work. Anaemia in pregnancy has been associated with negative outcomes, including maternal mortality, low birth weight and premature birth.
Sadly, the prevalence of anaemia among non-pregnant women of reproductive age has not significantly decreased in the last two decades. In fact, as the global population continues to increase, the number of women with anaemia increases every day. In this Decade of Action on Nutrition, scaled up investments and action to reduce anaemia is urgently needed.
This brief aims to reinforce the common understanding among multiple stakeholders of the significance of investing in the weekly iron and folic acid supplementation (WIFS) programme for non-pregnant women of reproductive age, including adolescent girls and adult women ranging from 15 to 49 years of age.
The brief is intended for stakeholders involved in prevention and control of anaemia, including national-level governments, communities, civil society, United Nations (UN) regional and country offices and the private sector, to seize the opportunity to increase investment and effectively implement WIFS as a preventative strategy to achieve the global nutrition target of reducing anaemia in women of reproductive age by 50% by 2025, endorsed by Member States in 2012 at the World Health Assembly.