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In NFHS Report Card- The Good, The Sober and The Future

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December 31, 2021

What is the issue?

Against the backdrop of the looming Omicron threat , the recently released fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 brings some positive news.

What is the NFHS survey about?

  • The NFHS is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India.
  • This year, over 6 lakh households across the country were surveyed for this exercise.
  • The NFHS provides estimates on key indicators related to population, family planning, child and maternal health, nutrition, adult health, and domestic violence, among others.
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has designated International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) as the nodal agency for the NFHS.
  • NFHS was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with supplementary support from UNICEF.
  • The First National Family Health Survey (NFHS-1) was conducted in 1992-93.

What are the positive outcomes in the survey?

  • Population stabilisation- The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) (the average number of children born per woman) has declined from 2.2 to 2.0 at the national level.
  • A total of 31 States and Union Territories have achieved fertility rates below the replacement level of 2.1.
  • Reasons for decline in fertility
    • Increase in adoption of modern family planning methods
    • Reduction in unmet need for family planning
    • Improvements in access to family planning related information and services
    • Improvements in female literacy
  • Improved health delivery- Maternal health services are steadily improving.
  • Reasons for improved health delivery
    • Increase in antenatal care in the first trimester
    • The recommended four antenatal care check-ups have increased
    • Increase in postnatal care visits
    • Improvement in accessing institutional births
    • Increase in institutional deliveries in public health facilities
    • Reduction in teenage pregnancy
  • Concerns
    • Still 11% of pregnant women were still either unreached by a skilled birth attendant or not accessing institutional facilities.
    • A very small segment of the population is currently accessing the full range of sexual and reproductive health services such as screening tests for cervical cancer and breast examinations.
  • Discriminatory social norms- There have been significant progress where women have the right to bodily autonomy and integrity, and the ability to take decisions about their lives.
  • Reasons for improvement in gender related indicators
    • The proportion of women (aged 15-24 years) who use menstrual hygiene products has increased.
    • The proportion of women who have their own bank accounts has gone up.
    • Around 54% of women have their own mobile phones and about one in three women have used the Internet.
    • There has been significant increase in the proportion of women with more than 10 years of schooling.
    • The prevalence of child marriage has gone down marginally.
    • Sex ratio at birth has shown slight improvement (from 919 in 2015-to 929 in 2019-21)
  • Concerns
    • Domestic violence- One in three women continues to face violence from their spouse
  • Promoting gender-equal values- The survey also highlights the importance of gender equal values.
  • Concerns
    • Women’s participation in the economy continues to remain low (only 25.6% women engaged in paid work)
    • Women still bear a disproportionate burden of unpaid domestic and care work which affects their ability to access gainful employment.

To know more about NFHS-5, click here

What does this call for?

  • The survey highlights the need to invest in comprehensive sexuality education as a key component of life-skills education for both in school and out-of-school adolescents.
  • The full range of sexual and reproductive health services should be included while expanding the basket of reproductive health services.
  • To empower women and ensure gender justice, it is imperative to address harmful practices, such as child marriage and gender-biased sex selection.
  • We must challenge discriminatory social norms that drive gender-based violence and harmful practices, and empower women to exercise agency and autonomy in all spheres of life.
  • Bodily autonomy is not only the foundation for a better future but also a fundamental human right.

 

Reference

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/in-nfhs-report-card-the-good-the-sober-the-future/article38075081.ece
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