After a gap of 10 years Government has recently released the NFHS survey 2015. Since 2005 various surveys have indicated towards significant improvement in health Indicators, the most significant being RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) survey. However, all of them were non-official surveys therefore they were not reliable for policy perspectives. However only first phase of NFHS survey is released
Key findings of the NFHS survey
(a) Child Health
• Findings for the 13 States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and 2 Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Pondicherry show promising improvements in maternal and child health and nutrition. All 15 States/Union Territories have rates below 51 deaths per 1,000 live births, although there is considerable variation among the States/Union Territories. Infant mortality rates range from a low of 10 in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to a high of 51 deaths per 1000 live births in Madhya Pradesh.
• Full immunization coverage among children age 12-23 months varies widely in the 1st Phase States/Union Territories. At least 6 out of 10 children have received full immunization in 12 of the 15 States / Union Territories. In Goa, West Bengal, Sikkim, and Pondicherry more than 4/5th of the children have been fully immunized. Since the last round of National Family Health Survey, the coverage of full immunization among children has increased substantially in the States of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, West Bengal and Meghalaya.
• The results from NFHS-4 in 15 States/Union Territories indicate that fewer children are dying in infancy and early childhood.
• All 1st Phase States/Union Territories except Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya have either achieved or maintained replacement level of fertility a major achievement in the past decade. All First Phase States/Union Territories except Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya have either achieved or maintained replacement level of fertility a major achievement in the past decade.
(C) Access to basic amenities
• Indian families in the 1st Phase households are now more inclined to use improved water and sanitation facilities. Over 2/3rd of households in every State/Union Territory have access to an improved source of drinking water, and more than 90% of households have access to an improved source of drinking water in nine of the 15 States/Union Territories. More than 50% of households have access to improved sanitation facilities in all First Phase States/Union Territories except Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Use of clean cooking fuel, which reduces the risk of respiratory illness and pollution, varies widely among the 1st Phase States/Union Territories, ranging from only about 18% of households in Bihar to more than 70% of households in Tamil Nadu and more than 80% of households in Pondicherry and Goa.
• Poor nutrition is less common than reported in the last round of National Family Health Survey. Fewer children under five years of age are now found to be stunted, showing intake of improved nutrition. In nine States/Union Territories, less than 1/3rd of children are found too short for their age.
What does NFHS Survey 2015 indicate?
• The NFHS survey 2015 reaffirmed the findings of the RSOC survey conducted by ministry of child & women in 2013-14 about rapid improvement in indicators related to family health in last 1 decade.
• The survey indicated that infant mortality rate and immunization increased significantly in all 13 states covered in its 1st phase.
• The survey also showed a reduction in maternal mortality rates and institutional deliveries and rapid improvement in the Fertility rates.
• The survey shown a definite improvement nutrition levels among children
• The rapid improvement in indicators is attributed to many factors which include:
• Government schemes like Janani Suraksha Yojana and Janani shishu suraksha Karyakaram have played a significant role in improving institutional delivery and reducing maternal mortality rate Indicators. This scheme has led to Better care for women during pregnancy and childbirth.
Reasons for better Indicators
• Better implementation of Schemes like ICDS, mid day meal, SABLA, PDS played an important role in reducing Stunted and Malnutrition levels.
• NRHM also played important role in improving general health
• Increasing awareness, education and greater availability and choice of birth control options have led to drastic improvement in fertility rate.
Areas of concern
• Though malnutrition and stunting has decreased over the years, still it is found that in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya more than 40% of children are stunted.
• Anemia has also declined, but still remains widespread. More than half of children are anemic in ten of the 15 States/Union Territories. Similarly, more than half of women are anemic in eleven States/Union Territories.
• Over-nutrition continues to be a health issue for adults. At least 3 in 10 women are overweight or obese in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu.
Though the survey indicated towards definite improvement in most of the indicators, A lot still needs to be done to reach the level achieved by some of our neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Srilanka. The survey indicates the usefulness and positive impact of the schemes like mid day meal, ICDS, PDS AND NRHM, in the light of improvement shown by the survey the incumbent government should relook at their decision of reducing the funds in these schemes in the upcoming budget.