Iranian girl students will receive supplements to prevent iron deficiency and anemia.
Announcing this, Mohammad Chinian, the deputy head of Education Ministry’s Physical Education Department, said the program will be implemented in 30 percent of guidance schools and all high schools across the country by the end of the current academic year (June 20).
“Girl students will receive iron tablets for 16 weeks as per the plan,” he said.
Chinian noted that the program will be held in 20,000 schools.
The official noted that the program was held during the last academic year as well, based on which girl students in 12,500 schools received iron tablets.
“The program has expanded this year to cover more students in order to improve the health status of girls,” he said, adding that girl students will also be taught about developing a healthy lifestyle through diet.
Iron is a necessary mineral for body function and good health. Every red blood cell in the body contains iron in its hemoglobin--the pigment that carries oxygen to the tissues from the lungs. But a lack of iron in the blood can lead to iron-deficiency (anemia), which is a very common nutritional deficiency in children.
Involved in various body functions, including the transport of oxygen in the blood, iron is essential in providing energy for daily life. It is also vital for brain development.
Iron deficiency can cause the body to absorb more lead, which increases the risk of lead poisoning in kids, especially those living in older homes.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency may include brittle nails, swelling or soreness of the tongue, cracks in the sides of the mouth, an enlarged spleen and frequent infections.
People who have iron-deficiency anemia may have an unusual craving for non-food items, such as ice, dirt, paint or starch. This craving is called pica.
Some people who have iron-deficiency anemia develop restless legs syndrome (RLS), which is a disorder that causes a strong urge to move the legs. This urge to move often occurs with strange and unpleasant feelings in the legs. People who have RLS often have a hard time sleeping.
Iron-deficiency anemia can put children at greater risk for lead poisoning and infections.
To boost the amount of iron in your diet, try these foods:
Red meat, egg yolks, dark leafy greens (spinach, collard), dried fruit (prunes, raisins), iron-enriched cereals and grains, turkey or chicken, beans, lentils, chickpeas and soybeans, liver and artichokes.
Drought Hits Nat’l Policies
Drought has dramatically increased as a consequence of climate change.
Most countries react to it only after it has occurred, but don’t have national policies to prevent it. The high-level meeting on national drought policies in Geneva this week is trying to match scientific knowledge with political awareness.
“Drought is a natural phenomenon, but over the last decades, as a consequence of climate change, it has been escalating in frequency and intensity, affecting millions of people across the world,” Loc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCC), said at the meeting, IPS reported.
The meeting, jointly organized by UNCC, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), brings together scientists and government officials to “start a dialogue on national policies”, said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the WMO.
“We have to facilitate the transition from crisis management to catastrophes prevention, like it has been successfully done for tsunamis and other natural catastrophes.”
Most Devastating Disaster
Drought affects more people than any other natural disaster: Since 1900, more than 11 million people have died as a consequence of drought and over two billion people have been affected. In Africa, a third of the people already live in drought-affected areas.
Half of the world population will live in areas of high water scarcity by 2020. And drought is the single most common cause of food shortages, severely affecting food security in developing countries and jeopardizing the FAO’s effort to increase food production by 70 percent by 2050 in order to feed a world population of 9 billion.
“Last year, the US was hit by a severe drought that cost 1 percent of GDP,” Ann Tutwiler, special representative of the FAO in Geneva told IPS in an interview. “It affected the livestock that had to be sent earlier to the slaughterhouse. Damages could be somehow limited since US biofuel policies allow, in cases of emergency, to use the cereals to feed the cattle instead of fuelling the cars. But it did not have much impact of human beings, except for the increase in the prices of cereals.”
In the Horn of Africa, drought affected 13 million people in 2011. In the worst-affected regions of Somalia, cereal prices were up 260 percent and, in Kenya, wheat yields dropped 45 percent compared to the year before.
In the 2007-8 drought in Syria, 75 percent of the country’s farmers suffered total crop failure. The drought in Northern Mexico between 2010 and 2011 destroyed 900,000 hectares of farmland, and 1.7 million head of livestock were lost.
“The only country in the world that has a full-fledged drought policy is Australia,” Mohamed Bazza, senior official at the land and water division at FAO told IPS.
“Kiribati and Morocco have national policies on water that are first steps towards good drought policies, but they are still sectorial and not comprehensive. Water is not the only sector that needs to be well planned, but all sectors do, like agriculture. Or, the strategy exists, but it is not implemented.”
Tackling drought has been at the center of the FAO’s mandate since its establishment. The Rome-based UN agency has implemented projects in emergency responses, but also in mitigation and preparedness, like establishment of regional drought management networks.
On the financial side, Mohamed Bazza believes that countries can fit their policies in their own regular budgets, like the ones for agriculture.
“Drought policy is country specific and it should accommodate economic and social conditions. Of course, the more funding you have, the better; but you don’t need to have extra funding to start. It is not the costs that prevent countries to have proactive policies. It is the lack of political awareness.”
Chile Unveils Largest Observatory
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera presided over the launch of the world’s largest astronomical observatory in the remote Atacama Desert of the northern Chilean Andes.
Home to the world’s most powerful telescope, the Atacama Large millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the observatory is the result of a collaboration between Europe, the US, Japan and Chile, according to a press release.
“One of our many natural resources is Chile’s spectacular night sky,” Xinhua quoted Pinera as saying. “I believe that science has been a vital contributor to the development of Chile in recent years.”
Located 5,000 meters above sea-level, the assembly of ALMA’s antennas was recently completed and the telescope has already provided “unprecedented views of the cosmos with only a portion of its full array”, the observatory said.
ALMA “is able to observe the universe by detecting light that is invisible to the human eye (and) will show us never-before-seen details about the birth of stars, infant galaxies in the early universe, and planets coalescing around distant suns”, the observatory added.
ALMA Director Thijs de Graauw said the telescope “dwarfs anything else we had before”, urging astronomers to exploit the full power of “this amazing tool”. The antennas of the ALMA array, 54 12-meter dish antennas and 12 smaller 7-meter dish antennas, work together as a single telescope. Each collects radiation coming in from space and the data is brought together and processed by a specialized supercomputer.
Men Die Younger In Europe
European men are lagging behind women in terms of life expectancy, a major new report reveals.
Although people are living longer than ever before, men have seen less improvement and are “a generation behind” women, say the authors, BBC said.
The World Health Organization team looked at data for nearly nine million people in 53 countries. It says men have not yet reached the average rise in years of life that women enjoyed back in 1980. The gap between the sexes is 7.5 years.
As of 2010, women in Europe can expect to live for an average of 80 years, while men reach an average of 72.5 years.
The researchers say lifestyle and occupational differences “largely explain this gap”.
The European Health Report also reveals big inequalities in average life expectancy between different countries. And these differences are greatest in men.
The gap between the best and worst countries for male life expectancy is 17 years. For women, it is 12. Countries with the widest male-female difference in survival included Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Montenegro, Russia and Ukraine.
Those with the smallest were Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.
The leading health risk factors for Europeans today include tobacco and alcohol use. Cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer, followed by cancer.
Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said, “There are persistent and widespread inequities in health across the region, which in some cases are worsening.”
How Dots Touch Lives
By Sadeq Dehqan & Katayoon Dashti
Iran Sepid, the only one of its kind in the Middle East, is published in the Braille language for the visually impaired.
This newspaper, with a history of 17 years, has a special status among the blind and visually-impaired people.
It is the sole media outlet for Iran’s 700,000 blind and visually-impaired population.
The newspaper has diverse materials and special pages for meeting the news demands of the blind. It has increased its pages from 12 to 20.
The circulation of Iran Sepid is low compared with the target population and demand. It is subsidized by the government and distributed among the blind and visually impaired people for free.
Iran Sepid’s Editorial Board comprises blind and visually impaired people who know the concerns of their counterparts very well.
The readers also know that the newspaper hears the voice of blind people and deals with issues close to their heart.
Iran Daily has interviewed Managing Director of Iran Sepid Alireza Mohammad-Beigi. Excerpts follow:
IRAN DAILY: Please tell us about yourself, your resume and work experiences.
MOHAMMAD-BEIGI: I have an MA in Persian language and literature. I have taught in high schools and colleges for 22 years.
I was editor-in-chief of two domestic publications affiliated to the Education Ministry for a year and editor-in-chief of Salahshouran-e Eslam Publications for one year.
I have been managing director of Hezareh Sevvom (3rd Millennium) weekly, which has been published both in ordinary script and Braille since 2004.
I took the helm of Iran Sepid newspaper since past one month.
How did you become interested in media work?
Since my field of study was Persian language and literature, it is somehow related to cultural and media work. I used to write poems when I was a university student.
Is Iran Sepid the only Braille newspaper in Iran and the world?
It is the first and sole Braille newspaper in Iran and the world, which is distributed across the country.
Although there are some local Braille newspapers in some parts of the world, our newspaper is distributed all over the country. Moreover, we have five weekly, monthly and seasonal publications that are also in Braille.
Will new technologies replace Braille publications in future?
Braille publications meet the news demand of the blind population in every situation such as darkness or lack of facilities such as electricity and computer, during traveling and inside every transportation means.
Is Iran Sepid influential among the blind?
The blind population accounts for 1 percent of the global healthy population, according to global norms. Therefore, we have over 700,000 blind or visually-impaired people in our 75-million population.
Iran Sepid is sent to various parts of the county. No copy goes on the newsstands. Therefore, we don’t have any returned copies.
The circulation of several thousands covers a huge portion of the target readers. If five copies of Iran Sepid newspaper are sent to a 50-member blind community, all of them read it.
If a blind person receives a Braille publication, he/she will quickly disseminate its news among others.
Why are blind people more interested in Iran Sepid in spite of their easier access to radio and television?
Our subscribers have become attached to this newspaper. If they don’t receive a copy of Iran Sepid one day, they will pursue the matter.
Iran Sepid has a special place in the cultural basket of the blind. They enjoy reading it.
What percentages of the blind and visually-impaired population are familiar with Braille? What do you know about them?
The average literacy rate among the blind population is higher than the national standard, despite vision restriction and low access to educational facilities.
Because, having higher education helps them find a better job.
Are all literate blind people familiar with Braille?
As you know, 800 Iranian soldiers lost their eyes during the 1980-88 Iran’s Sacred Defense against Iraq.
Since they became blind as a teenager and youth, they didn’t learn Braille.
Usually, those who lose their eyes in older ages are less inclined to learn Braille. However, a huge number of the blind and visually impaired people are familiar with Braille.
The worst offending countries in ivory trade have been given a strict deadline by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to reduce their involvement or face sanctions.