Despite IFA supplementation being one of the oldest supplementation programs in India, along with a newer program for calcium supplementation, their coverage and compliance among pregnant and lactating women remains suboptimum. The National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) reports that IFA uptake (for at least 100 days) during pregnancy is 44%1 and calcium uptake is inadequate.
The Government of India has demonstrated a strong commitment to reducing anaemia rates and has implemented several innovative strategies to improve coverage. The Ministry of Health and Welfare launched Anaemia Mukt Bharat, an intensified iron-plus initiative aimed at strengthening existing mechanisms and fostering new strategies to tackle anaemia. While there are still some challenges to overcome, such as occasional stock-outs and the need for a centralized system to track supplement consumption, progress has been made.
To address missed antenatal visits and knowledge gaps, the government has taken steps to improve community awareness of anaemia prevention and educate women on the importance of regular antenatal care. However, a lack of incentives for frontline workers to distribute supplements and provide nutrition counselling remains a barrier, contributing to poor access and uptake of supplements by women. Significant opportunities exist to improve coverage and adherence to IFA among pregnant and postpartum women through a health system strengthening approach by focusing on improving access and regular use of quality antenatal and postnatal care.