Mortality rate among infants and those under five years of age has improved but malnutrition among children has worsened, according to the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).
The neonatal mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) has dropped in 15 states and Union Territories in comparison to NFHS-4 (2015-16), while the infant mortality rate (IMR) and the under-five mortality rate (UMR) fell in 18 states and Union Territories, the NFHS-5 showed.
The fifth NFHS, which contains detailed information on population, health, and nutrition for India and its states and Union Territories, was released on Saturday by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. The survey is based on statistics gleaned from 6.1 lakh households in the country.
“Substantial improvement in maternal and child health indicators over NFHS-4 was recorded in the present survey. The fertility rate has further declined, and contraceptive use has increased in most Phase I States. The survey found considerable improvement in vaccination coverage among children aged 12-23 months across all States/UTs. Women’s empowerment indicators (including women with bank accounts) also portray considerable progress,” a press statement from the Health Ministry noted.
Proportion of children with stunting has risen in 11 out of 18 states for which data was available. Stunting is defined as less height for one’s age which results from poor nutrition. Stunting has worsened in 11 major states. The extent of worsening in major states (in percentage points) is Telangana (5.1), Himachal Pradesh (4.5), Kerala (3.7), West Bengal (1.3), Maharashtra (0.8) and Gujarat (0.5).
Wasting, which is defined as inadequate weight-for-height due to acute malnutrition, has gone up in 14 states. Wasting has worsened in ten major states. The extent of worsening in major states (in percentage points) is Jammu and Kashmir (6.8), Assam (4.7), HP (3.7), Telangana (3.6), Bihar (2.1) and Kerala (0.1).
Anaemia has worsened for children under the age of five, showed the survey.
The extent of worsening in major states (in percentage points) is Assam (32.7), Jammu and Kashmir (18.9), Gujarat (17.1), Maharashtra (15.1), West Bengal (14.8), Telangana (9.3), Bihar (5.9), AP (4.6). Karnataka (4.6) and Kerala (3.7), HP (1.7).
The 33 percentage points increase in Assam means that more than two-thirds of children (68%) under the age of five years in the state are anaemic. In the latest survey, Gujarat has been shown as having the highest proportion of anaemic children- 80 percent – while this number was at 63 per cent in the last survey.
However, Gujarat showed maximum improvement in vaccination of children. In Gujarat, the percentage of fully vaccinated children (12-23 months) jumped by nearly 26 percent from the last survey. The improvement in vaccination was also seen in major states such as Maharashtra (17.3 percent) and Himachal Pradesh (20 percent).