Researchers in the Milken Institute School of Public Health have won a $4 million grant to study iron deficiency in India, according to a release from the school this week.
Rajiv Rimal, the chair of the department of prevention and community health, will lead a research team on a three-year project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that aims to decrease the number of iron deficiency and anemia cases in Odisha, an eastern Indian state. If successful, the project could be expanded to other parts of India or the world, according to the release.
For more than 10 years, iron-deficiency anemia has been the leading cause of disabilities in India, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
“Iron-deficiency anemia can lead to a cycle of poor health, one that can affect women, their children and entire communities,” Rimal said in the release. “Our study aims to find an innovative solution for this important public health problem.”
At the beginning of the project, researchers will attempt to identify reasons why women in Odisha do not take daily iron and folate acid supplements, something that is recommended by the World Health Organization and can help prevent anemia. The team will then craft a study with the intent of changing social norms and behaviors in the region, according to the release.
Within the first year of the study, researchers will launch a “small-scale intervention,” which will be followed by a larger trial period with 4,000 female participants, the release states.
This is the second major grant the public health school has received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the last month. In November, the foundation gave $4.9 million to a project that gives nutritional supplements to pregnant woman in Nepal.
The India research team will also partner with IPE Global, an international development consultancy group based in India that has too begun work to reduce the prevalence of anemia in Odisha.