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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Project tackles iron deficiency

Project tackles iron deficiency

T HE Ministry of Health (MoH) last week launched a three-month project to test the

effectiveness of iron and folate supplements on Cambodian women after a survey showed

high iron deficiencies in women and children.

A nationwide survey conducted by the MoH suggested that as many as 80 percent of

pregnant women, 65 percent of women who are not pregnant, and 75 percent of children

under five have insufficient iron in their diet.

"Compared with other countries in the region, the deficiency rate here is very

high," said Dr Suttilak Smitasiri, consultant on the project.

Around 11,000 garment workers of reproductive age from eight garment factories near

the capital were chosen by the MoH to take part in the project.

Dr Ouk Poly, director for nutrition at the maternal and child health center in the

MoH, explained that many women of reproductive age lose iron through blood loss during

menstruation and when giving birth. On the strength of a talk on iron deficiency

given by him at a seminar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Japanese government provided

$100,000 in funding.

As part of an awareness raising strategy, the MoH released a promotional song exhorting

"Young Khmer women, female workers and schoolgirls" to take a "Red

Rose" supplement weekly.

Iron is necessary for the oxygenation of red blood cells, while folic acid helps

with the production of these cells.

Dr Poly said workers would undergo a medical check-up after three months to determine

the benefits.

"If that shows good results we will start providing supplements to other women

in the community and schoolgirls," he said.



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