Business Wire India
Global healthcare and pharmaceutical company Merck continues to spread awareness about anemia in Asia. Following last year’s highly successful Anemia Convention, Merck’s latest anemia awareness campaign took shape at the RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) World Congress 2018 held recently in Singapore. This event attracts close to 3000 obstetricians, gynecologists and related specialties from across the world.
Notably, the timing of this event coincided with the publication of an important study in The Lancet Global Health
stating that anemia, a condition characterized by a lack of healthy red blood cells, can double the risk of death in pregnant women.
This pivotal research, which utilized information from over 300,000 women across 29 countries by the WHO (World Health Organization), established that pregnant women with severe anemia are twice as likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy compared to those who don’t have the condition.
Merck spearheaded the Anemia Convention 2017 to provide a platform for healthcare professionals to share their expertise, exchange views and discuss about the impact of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia on quality of life and on trends on iron supplementation in the context of anemia. Like the Anemia Convention, the RCOG World Congress also serves as an educational springboard for participants to take the learnings back to their markets and share them to fellow Health Care Professionals to further build understanding and awareness about specific health issues.
In last year’s Anemia Convention supported by Merck, it was found that the WHO Regional Prevalence of Anemia in Pregnant Women between the ages of 15 and 49, in Southeast Asia, was registered at high 48.7% affecting 11.5 million people.1
Globally, there are 41.8% of anemic pregnant women with nearly 60% of the cases attributable to iron deficiency.2
This time, Merck spearheaded an educational scientific symposium on “Anemia during Pregnancy and Beyond – Truth, Myths and the Unknown” at the RCOG World Congress led by Dr. Michael Low and Dr. Rajapriya Ayyapan.
Dr. Rajapriya Ayyappan, an Obstetrics and Gynecology consultant at Srinivas Priva Hospital in India,
presented a global health concern with the WHO findings that there are 32.4 million pregnant women who are anemic. Moreover, about half the deaths from anemia in the world occur in South Asian countries out of which India
accounts for 80%
of the deaths in the region4
. Additionally, In India, 87% of pregnant women
and 75% of children under the age of 5
suffer from iron deficiency Anemia4
During the symposium, the anemia awareness campaign continued with Dr. Ayyappan reporting that the condition remains a challenge for all ages driven by low SES (socioeconomic status), poor nutrition, high parity (number of pregnancies reaching viable gestational age), birth spacing, faulty diet, infectious diseases (malaria, worms) and inflammatory diseases.
Hematologist Dr. Michael Low at the Monash Medical Centre, Victoria Australia,
on the other hand, presented and emphasized how iron replacement benefits women before and during pregnancy.
Dr. Low summarized the effects of daily oral iron replacement in non-pregnant women which resulted in recovery of hemoglobin and ferritin levels leading to overall improvement in IDA. This improvement was associated with significantly reduced fatigue scores, increased exercise performance and improved restless leg symptoms, albeit iron supplementation may lead to increased gastrointestinal side effects (constipation, diarrhea and stool coloration).
Dr. Low proceeded to show how iron replacement in pregnancy, particularly for those who are iron deficient, can reduce preterm delivery and increase birth weight. New evidence also suggests that multiple micronutrient supplementation may be better than iron alone.
Ending the symposium on a positive note, Dr. Low also shared the WHO suggested scheme for daily iron supplementation in adult women and adolescent girls which is daily intake of 30-60 mg of elemental iron tablets for three consecutive months in a year.3
The iron supplementation will help prevent the onset of iron deficiency and anemia.
Merck intends to keep health care professionals as well as the general public updated on the latest information, studies and statistics about anemia to empower them in forming steps against the condition.
“Merck is committed to the education and awareness around anemia due to iron deficiency. It is a global burden that we in the industry, healthcare providers and governments all need to address together. We would like to sustain and further develop our partnerships with experts and healthcare professionals across various platforms so we can learn more about anemia as well as develop treatments and strategies with healthcare professionals to address this global health burden better,” stated Dr. Ashley Barlow, Regional Medical Director, Asia, Merck Consumer Health.
1 WHO. The global prevalence of anaemia in 2011. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015.
3 WHO Guidelines: Daily iron supplementation in women and adolescent girls 2016; WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience 2016
4 WHO Technical report series: Control of Nutritional Anaemia with special reference to Iron Deficiency