The Crisis of Anemia
Iron-deficiency anemia is the world's most common nutritional disorder. It is caused by low levels of iron in the blood. Iron is an essential nutrient in the development of healthy red blood cells, and is an integral part of growth and cognitive development. In adults, anemia leads to chronic fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath. Severe forms can even lead to heart failure. In children, the consequences are even more severe. Children suffering from iron-deficiency anemia can develop learning disabilities that they cannot recover from.
It is most rampant in India where it remains a major 'silent-killer'. It affects 900 million people in India, including 55% of women and 70% of children, and accounts for 65% of all maternal and fetal deaths. Despite these daunting figures, iron-deficiency anemia can be easily treated by including an adequate amount of iron in one's daily diet.
THE FAILURE OF PREVIOUS EFFORTS
Current treatment plans consist of pills that can have adverse reactions, or nutritional guidance that is hard to follow.
A short-term option for treating anemia is iron pills. While iron pills are cheap and easily available, they contain 300 mg of non-heme inorganic iron, which is difficult for the body to absorb. Iron is sparingly soluble in water, and high iron intake may lead to bowel irritation and organ failure due to accumulation. Hence, iron-pills cannot be consumed for long periods of time.
A market scan of government health programs found that some programs entirely neglected nutrition in their treatment regime. Other programs distributed iron-fortified flour and rice, but they were unsuccessful because people were unaware of how much iron-fortified food they should consume to satisfy the daily iron requirement.
Among the patients we surveyed, we found high demand for an accessible treatment option.
In 2011, LBWR conducted anemia testing and treating camps, during which we tested and treated over 5000 anemic patients. During these interactions, we found that while most women were enthusiastic about adding iron to their diet, they lacked a simple solution to their problem. Specifically, they were looking for one iron-rich food supplement with enough iron to satisfy their daily requirement.