New report recommends change to address iron deficiency


A new initiative backed by Vifor Pharma will today issue a report with a range of draft recommendations aimed at addressing iron deficiency in Australia.

Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency worldwide and, if untreated, can progress to anaemia.

Symptoms include weakness, shortness of breath, cold feet and hands, pale skin tone; dizziness and irregular heartbeats. It can be treated.

In 2017-18, iron deficiency anaemia accounted for almost 65,000 potentially preventable hospitalisations.

The Iron Deficiency Collaborative was established in early 2020 with the support of Vifor Pharma. It is comprised of a number of leading clinicians and healthcare professionals and has the goal of identifying and delivering recommendations on how Australian can optimise the management of iron deficiency.

It is focussed on how the health system can better address what is an easily identified and treatable condition, delivering earlier treatment to minimise preventable hospitalisations and calculating the cost of iron deficiency to the economy.

The four identified areas of focus are economic impact, pathology, guidelines and education and health literacy. 

The report by Evaluate Consulting found the productivity loss associated with iron deficiency in women aged 15 to 44 is $6.62 billion per year.

It found that for women of childbearing age with iron deficiency, this loss represents an average opportunity cost of $2,846 per year in terms of earnings. 

The report includes a number of draft recommendations, including widened pathology testing for iron deficiency, the development of national guidelines that reflect world’s best practice for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the condition, as well as the development of a public health awareness campaign.

Consultation on the report and recommendations is open until February 2021.