There are many types of anaemia. All are very different in their causes and treatments. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type and is easily treatable with dietary changes and iron supplements. The prevalence of anaemia, defined by low haemoglobin or haematocrit, is commonly used to assess the severity of iron deficiency in a population. The health consequences of anaemia can include poor pregnancy outcome, impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children and reduced work productivity in adults.
Iron deficiency anaemia is an important public health problem in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. It is estimated that more than one third of the population in the Region is anaemic. Pregnant women and young children are most at risk: about 50% of pregnant women and 63% of children under-5 have iron deficiency anaemia. Recent data on anaemia rates in preschool children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age show no improvement in the overall situation.