Published on: November 26, 2021




The results from the second phase of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) was recently released

Key Findings

  • Seven out of 10 children below the age of 5 (67 per cent) suffer some form of anaemia, up from 59 per cent as published in the previous 2015-16 survey. Additionally, 57 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 years were found to be anaemic. 25 per cent in that same age group are iron deficient. Both male and female categories have registered an increase since the last survey.
  • A stark rise in anaemia cases located Assam among the worst-performing states when it came to anaemia prevalence, particularly in children (68.4 per cent) – up from 35.7 in the previous survey.
  • States that showed an increase since the last survey were Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Malnutrition also continues to be India’s bane with the survey revealing only marginal improvements over the last six years. 35.5 per cent of children below the age of 5 remain stunted and 32 per cent underweight, raising concerns over the efficacy of government programmes like the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the National Nutrition Mission.
  • Some improvement was observed in child health with under 5 mortality falling to around 42 (per 1000 live births) – down from around 50 in 2015-16. Infant mortality also fell from 41(per 1000 live births) in 2015-2016 to 35(per 1000 live births) in 2019-21.
  • In a first (since the survey began in 1992), the proportion of women in the country now exceeds men with the survey finding 1,020 women per 1,000 men. However, the survey also found the sex ratio at birth for children born since the last survey only marginally improving from 919 females per 1,000 males in 2015-2016 to 929 females per 1,000 males, indicating that boys had a higher likelihood of survival than girls.
  • Although the large majority of states and UTs now have more women than men, the exceptions were Gujarat, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, J&K, Chandigarh, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Ladakh. However, all states and UTs showed increases in the female population.
  • India’s population appears to be stabilising. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in most states and UTs has now fallen under 2. A TFR of 2 – meaning a woman, on average, bears two children over her lifetime – suggests that the population will be perfectly replaced.
  • Only Bihar, Meghalaya, Manipur, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh to have TFR’s greater than 2. Although Bihar had a high TFR of 3, this was still an improvement from 2015-2016 when its TFR stood at 3.4.