(Image source from: Times of India)
An Indian-origin Thakor Patel is set to launch a project in Gujarat for villagers suffering from iron-deficiency anemia.
The villagers through the project will get iron 'Mirchis' or 'balls' that can be dipped while cooking 'kadhi' or 'dals.'
Earlier, Kenya-born Patel initiated a Sevak project. Now, about to launch project will distribute the mirchis' or round-shaped balls in villages where anemia is an acute problem.
Gujarat being to a great extent vegetarian state, iron-deficiency anemia has been identified as a major health problem by Sevak project which was started in 2010 as an initiative of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPIO).
"Worldwide, iron fish which is a fish-shaped cast iron ingot is used to as dietary supplement for those having iron-deficiency anemia. These ingots are placed in a pot of boiling water to leach elemental iron into the water and food," said Patel.
"Being a vegetarian state, iron fish may not get easily accepted in Gujarat. So, we are developing iron 'Mirchi' or iron 'balls' that can be distributed amongst villagers," he said, adding that the project will be rolled out from Nardipur in Gandhinagar where Sevak is already running its health project.
"We will start distributing the iron ingots in partnership with the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), Gandhinagar, U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University and Swedish conglomerate Hoganas," he said.
The mirchis will act as a continuous supplement as they can be used again while cooking the curries.
Through $1 million grant given by U.S.-based Non-Resident Indians Chirag Patel and Chintu Patel to IIPH, Gandhinagar, Sevaks working under the project are already screening girls in the age group of 11 to women up to 40 years of age for anemia in over 80 villages of 33 districts of Gujarat.
"As part of the maternal child health projects, the Sevaks are screening the girls and women by using TouchHb machines that have been developed by Biosense of Pune. The plan is to treat all the females with anemia and to fortify the family food with iron to prevent anemia in future," said Patel.
After taking in one village each in each district, Sevak is currently spreading out its wings to Tamil Nadu and Orissa.
"At first, we had only 26 villages, 26 sevaks in 26 districts of Gujarat. But, now we have 33 sevaks who are covering 80 villages of 33 districts of the state and all of them are trained in healthcare, sanitation, water purification, prevention of diseases and lifestyle modification education," he said.