Nutritional anemia: its understanding and control with special reference to the work of the World Health Organization
AbstractSJ Baker and EM DeMaeyer Since 1949, the World Health Organization, recognizing the public health importance of nutritional anemia, has sponsored efforts directed towards its understanding and control. During this period, often as a result of the work of the Organization, advances have been made in many areas. Basic understanding of iron, folate and vitamin B12 nutrition, and the various factors which may influence the availability and requirements of these factors, has greatly increased. Surveys in a number of countries have highlighted the widespread prevalence of nutritional anemia, particularly in developing countries. The major factor responsible is a deficiency of iron, whith folate deficiency also playing a role in some population groups, especially in preganant women. There is increasing evidence that anemia adversely affects the health of individuals and may have profound socioeconomic consequences. Control of nutritional anemia is possible by providing the deficient nutrient(s) either as therapeutic supplements or by fortification of commonly used foodstuffs. Some control programs are reviewed and suggestions for further action outlined. The Organization still has an important role to play in this field, encouraging the development of control programs and providing advice and technical assistance ot member countries.