Anaemia among Kenyan children: a call for improved monitoring and intervention in school-aged children

Okiro EA, Joseph NK, Gitonga CW, Snow RW
Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2020;114

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BACKGROUND: Anaemia has long been recognised as a major public health problem among young children in lower- and middle-income countries and is an indicator of both poor nutrition and health status. There has been little progress towards improvement of anaemia in part due to its complex aetiology. An added impediment to the progress is that the monitoring of anaemia does not routinely target the whole population, with school-aged children (SAC) largely overlooked. METHODS: We re-examined data on the prevalence of anaemia among children aged <15 y sampled from 2008-2015 in Kenya. RESULTS: Approximately one in four Kenyan children aged <15 y were described as anaemic, including 12% with WHO-defined moderate anaemia and 1% who were severely anaemic. Average haemoglobin concentrations increased with age and the risk of having anaemia decreased with age. However, one in five SAC in Kenya were suffering from anaemia; most were either mild (11.4%) or moderately (10.9%) anaemic. CONCLUSIONS: The monitoring of anaemia in SAC continues to be a neglected area limiting a careful articulation of the need to target interventions in this age group.