India Has More Anaemic, Pregnant Women Than Yechury Thinks There Are




India Has More Anaemic, Pregnant Women Than Yechury Thinks There Are


Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and a member of the Rajya Sabha, tweeted on June 13, 2017:



Yechury’s tweet was in response to the furore over recommendations for pregnant women made by the ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH).


We fact-checked Yechury’s claim, and found that more than 50% of pregnant women in India aged 15-49 years are anaemic, according to data from the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, a drop from 58% in 2005-06.


About 20% of maternal deaths in India are directly related to anemia and another 50% of maternal deaths are associated with it, according to a 2014 study in Nutrition, a scientific journal,  IndiaSpend reported on October 27, 2016.


More Than 50% Of Pregnant Women In India Are Anaemic
Urban Rural India
Pregnant women who are anaemic 45.7% 52.1% 50.3%


A booklet titled Mother and Child Care, issued by the AYUSH Ministry, had made several objectionable recommendations, Hindustan Times reported on June 14, 2017.


“Don’t eat meat, say no to sex after conception, avoid bad company, have spiritual thoughts and hang some good and beautiful pictures in your room to have a healthy baby,” the booklet said.


The booklet was compiled by the government-funded Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN) under the AYUSH ministry, formed in 2014 to promote Indian traditional healing practices. The news was picked up by other media outlets as well. (Read here and here).


“The booklet puts forward the “prescription” that “pregnant women in India” should “say no to sex after conception,” the AYUSH ministry clarified its position in response to the outrage.


“This is far from the truth. In fact, the words “no sex” do not feature at all in the booklet,” according to this press release issued by the ministry on June 14, 2017.


“The suggestion on page 14 of the booklet regarding avoiding certain types of food like tea, coffee, white flour products, fried and oily items and non-veg during pregnancy is seen to have received selective attention,” the ministry statement said. “The suggestion that non-vegetarian food may be avoided (as yoga & naturopathy doesn’t advocate non-vegetarian food in its practice) has been singled out for highlighting in some reports, omitting the mention of white-flour products, fried and oily items.”


“I would not support the advice given to pregnant women to avoid meat,”  Kamini Rao, chairperson of The International Institute For Training and Research in Reproductive Health and medical director of Bengaluru-based Milann – Centre for Reproductive Medicine, told HuffPostIndia, in response to the ministry’s directive.


“Meat and eggs are a rich source of iron and protein, particularly in a protein-deficient population like ours,” Rao said.