Health conditions of Indians improved: NFHS survery
Phase-I data of the much awaited 'National Family Health Survey-4' (NFHS-4, 2015-16) was finally released by Union Health Ministry. The overall health condition of people has improved significantly in nutrition, immunization, fertility rates, maternal care, etc. However, a long road lies ahead, as more than 50% women in many states suffer from anaemia, while children suffer from stunting due to lack of proper nutrition.
About National Family Health Survey
NFHS is the most comprehensive health survey in the country which helps in analyzing trends and making policies. First carried out in 1992-93, NFHS (2015-16) is the fourth in this series. Commissioned by the Health Ministry, it is carried out by the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. NFHS-4 will survey 5,70,000 households and for the first time provide results at district level.
The gaping data deficit
NFHS-3 was conducted in 2005-06 and for almost a decade the data was not updated to arrive at the actual health situation on the ground level. NFHS-4, supposed to be carried out in 2010, was delayed because health ministry officials believed that it should be carried out with the Census-2011. However, the plan was shelved after protests and data collection started only in 2014.
Coverage in Phase-I
NFHS-4 is being conducted in 2 phases. In Phase-I, 13 States and 2 Union Territories were covered whereas the data collection for Phase-II is underway.
Important highlights of the survey
In all the 15 states and union territories, infant mortality rate (number of deaths under 1 year of age/1000 live births) have declined with Andaman and Nicobar reporting 10 and Madhya Pradesh recording 51. Immunization has improved to more than 80% in West Bengal, Sikkim, etc. Relatively fewer children under 5 years were found stunted, signifying improvement in nutrition. Anaemia, however, is still widespread.
Maternal health improves in India
Decline in maternal deaths is clearly visible with improved care during pregnancy and child birth. Number of mothers following the recommended 4 visits to health centers before pregnancy have also increased significantly. Institutional delivery has shot up to more than 90% in AP, Goa, Karnataka, Telangana, etc. However, more than 50% of the women in 11 out of 15 states and UTs remain anaemic.
Fertility rates decline
Fertility rates (average number of children a woman potentially bears) have registered a decline with all states except Bihar, MP and Meghalaya achieving replacement level (fertility rate of 2.1). However, decline in fertility rates despite lessened use of family planning methods is misleading. In Karnataka, fertility rates fell from 2.1 to 1.8, while use of family planning methods also reduced from 64% to 52%.
Women getting empowered
Percentage of women managing their own finances has bettered with an unprecedented improvement (16% to 78%) in Tamil Nadu. Surprisingly, Bihar topped in women owning land/houses with 59% women owning property. Data also shows that 90% women participate in household decision making in West Bengal. However, only 28% women own a mobile phone vis-a-vis 43% men. Women's percentage with awareness about HIV/AIDS has declined.