The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a largescale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India. The key results from the second phase of the latest NFHS (NFHS-5, 2019-21) have been released which comes out as a mixed verdict, containing both cheer and alarm in abundant measure. These results, in particular, are of great significance and must be given appropriate attention as it is not a hastily put together state-of-health index but a detailed, comprehensive, multi-dimensional report card on the state of India’s demographic and health trajectory.
Key Findings of the Survey
- NFHS 4 & 5, a Comparison: There are many pluses in the report card of NFHS-5.
- Improvements have been witnessed in several dimensions such as educational attainment, institutional deliveries, vaccinations, infant mortality etc.
- Irrespective of the pace, the progress shall be appreciated especially given the abysmal state of India’s health infrastructure which has been tragically apparent since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
- Decline in TFR, a Major Positive: The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has been falling over time and has now reached (at 2.0) just below the replacement rate of 2.1.
- This is true across all States of India which means that the total population has stabilised.
- For the first time in India, between 2019-21, there were 1,020 adult women per 1,000 men. However, the data shall not undermine the fact that India still has a sex ratio at birth (SRB) more skewed towards boys than the natural SRB (which is 952 girls per 1000 boys).
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