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More than half of India’s children and women anaemic: NFHS-5 survey

Anaemia among children and adults has worsened, with more than half of women and children reported to be anaemic in the fifth national family health survey 2019-21 of fourteen states released on Wednesday.

Among children from six months to five years of age, more than 67 per cent were found to be anaemic compared to 58.6 per cent in the last survey conducted in 2015-16. More women and men in the age group 15 to 49 years and 15 to 19 years were found anaemic compared to the last survey. Cases of anaemia were much higher among women – 57 per cent as against men – 25 per cent, in the 15-49 year age band.

“Anaemia among children and women continues to be a cause of concern…in spite of substantial increase in the composition of iron folic acid tablets by pregnant women for 180 days or more,” the health ministry said.

On the positive side, the number of women in the age bracket of 15-49 years having a bank or savings account that they themselves used had gone up to 78.6 per cent compared to 58 per cent in the previous survey.

The fertility rate of women was down from 2.2 children per woman in 2015-16 to 2.0 nationally in the latest survey. It however ranged from 1.4 in Chandigarh to 2.4 in Uttar Pradesh. All Phase-II States have achieved a replacement level of fertility of 2.1 except Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

There has also been some improvement in the markers for nutrition status of children and adults in the NFHS 2019-21.

Stunting in children has declined from 38 per cent to 36 per cent, wasting from 21 per cent to 19 per cent and underweight from 36 per cent to 32 percent at all India level.

The health ministry statement said that in all phase two states and UTs, the situation improved in respect of child nutrition but the change was not significant as drastic changes in respect of these indicators are unlikely in a short span.

Institutional births have increased from 79 per cent to 89 per cent at all-India Level. Institutional delivery was found to be 100 per cent in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. There has also been a substantial increase in C-section deliveries in many states, especially private healthcare facilities.

Full immunization drive among children aged 12-23 months has recorded an improvement from 62 per cent to 76 per cent at all-India level. Eleven out of fourteen states had immunised more than three-fourth of children aged 12-23 months. The number was highest at 90 per cent for Odisha.

The states covered in phase-II of the survey are Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The survey was conducted in around 600,000 lakh sample households from 707 districts of the country as on March, 2017, covering 724,115 women and 101,839 men.

The findings of NFHS-5 in respect of 22 states covered in Phase-I were released in December, 2020.

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