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Anaemia, characterised by a low level of haemoglobin in the blood, is a major health problem in The Gambia, especially among young children and pregnant women. Anaemia may be an underlying cause
of maternal mortality, spontaneous abortions, premature births, and low birth weight. The most common cause of anaemia is inadequate dietary intake of nutrients necessary for synthesis of haemoglobin, such as iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12. Anaemia also results from sickle cell disease, malaria, and parasitic infections. A number of interventions have been put in place to address anaemia in children. These include expanded distribution of multi-micronutrient powders; deworming of children age 1 to 5 every six months, along with vitamin A distribution; and promotion of environmental sanitation and the use of insecticidetreated mosquito nets for children under age 5 in malaria-endemic areas.In the 2013 GDHS, the HemoCue rapid testing methodology was used to determine anaemia levels among women age 15-49 and children under age 5. This table presents anaemia levels among children age 6-59 months according to selected background characteristics.
The results are based on children who stayed in the household the night before the interview. Haemoglobin was measured in 3,238 children. Unadjusted (i.e., measured) haemoglobin values were obtained using the HemoCue instrument. Given that haemoglobin requirements differ substantially depending on altitude, an adjustment to sea-level equivalents was made using CDC formulas before classifying children according to level of anaemia (CDC, 1998).Overall, 73 percent of children suffer from some level of anaemia, with 26 percent, 43 percent, and 4 percent being mildly, moderately, and severely anaemic, respectively (Table 11.7). Male children (74 percent) are slightly more likely to be anaemic than female children (72 percent). The prevalence of anaemia is higher among children in rural areas than among urban children (78 percent versus 67 percent).Kuntaur has the highest proportion of children with anaemia (85 percent), while Banjul has the lowest proportion (61 percent). There is an inverse relationship between anaemia prevalence by mother’s level of education. Wealth quintile is also inversely related to the prevalence of anaemia among children. Seventyeight percent of children in households in the lowest wealth quintile are anaemic, as compared with 63 percent of those in households in the highest quintile.
Percentage of children age 6-59 months classified as having anaemia, by background characteristics, The Gambia 2013