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200 children fall ill after taking iron, folic acid supplements in govt schools

Two hundred students of Delhi government-run schools fell ill after allegedly being given folic acid and iron supplements under a newly launched government scheme. The incident comes close on the heels of mid-day meal tragedies in two Bihar schools and the death of a child after taking Vitamin A tablets at an Anganwadi Centre there.

The students complained of stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and other problems. Out of the 200 children who fell ill, 21 were admitted to seven hospitals in the city. The incident caused panic among parents, but Delhi health minister A K Walia assured that the children were suffering from known and expected side-effects from the nutritional supplements.  

Walia on Thursday said, ‘The Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation Programme (WIFS) had been launched on Monday and 18 lakh iron and folic acid tablets were administered on Wednesday to 15 lakh students of schools run by the Delhi government, New Delhi Municipal Council, Delhi Cantonment Board and all government-aided schools.  In addition, two lakh adolescents under the Anganwadi Centres and one lakh teachers and Anganwadi workers and helpers in different parts of the city were also administered the tablets.’

Walia said, ‘These symptoms are known to be reported in one per cent of those receiving the initial doses of iron and folic acid tablets across the world. However, in case of Delhi government-run schools, only 0.01 per cent of the total beneficiaries have reported these common side effects, which is well within the acceptable level’.

Walia said that none of the children who complained of illness following the intake of tablets were reported to be in serious condition and were discharged after treatments.
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