Anaemia in women, children aggravated in 2019: NFHS-5

As many as 68.4% children and 66.4% women surveyed suffered from anaemia in 2019

By Arup Jana
Published: Monday 28 December 2020

Anaemia in children and women worsened in the past half-a-decade across most states and Union territories, according to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS).

As many as 68.4 per cent children and 66.4 per cent women surveyed suffered from anaemia in 2019; 35.7 per cent children and 46.1 per cent women were anaemic in 2016. The prevalence increased in Assam by 32.7 percentage points among children and 20.3 percentage points among women.

These were among the findings of the first phase of NFHS-5 (2019-20) carried out by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The number of women suffering from anaemia increased by 18 percentage points in Jammu and Kashmir. In Nagaland, 19.3 per cent women surveyed were found anaemic; this rose to 46.4 per cent in 2019.

A rise in anaemia was recorded in several other states as well among women aged between 15 and 49 years: Tripura (12.9 percentage points), Mizoram (10.1 percentage points) and West Bengal (8.9 percentage points).

Andaman and Nicobar Island, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh were the states that recorded a reverse trend. Meghalaya recorded a marginal decline in percentage of women suffering from anaemia.

Red circles signify the prevalence of anaemia among children (aged 6-59 months) in 2019-20. The other edge signifies the same in 2015-16. Chart includes states and UTs surveyed in the first phase of NFHS-5.Chart: Source: NFHS-5 and NFHS-4  

Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, however, showed a marginal improvement in child and women health, according to survey findings.

The highest percentage of school children suffering from anaemia, according to NFHS-4, was observed in Haryana (71 per cent), followed by Jharkhand (69.9 per cent); Madhya Pradesh (68.9 per cent), Bihar (63.5 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (63.2 per cent). Among Union territories, 84.6 per cent children were anaemic in Dadra and Nagar Haveli; 73.8 per cent in Daman and Diu and 73.1 per cent in Chandigarh.

In 2016, among the states that had a higher percentage of women with anaemia were: Jharkhand (65.2 per cent), Haryana (62.7 per cent), West Bengal (62.5 per cent), Bihar (60.3 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (60.0 per cent) and UTs Dadra & Nagar Haveli (79.5 per cent), Chandigarh (75.9 per cent) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (65.7 per cent).

Red circles signify the prevalence of anemia among women (15-49 years) in 2019-20. Chart includes states and UTs surveyed in the first phase of NFHS-5. Source: NFHS-5 and NFHS-4 

Northeastern states such as Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim had the lowest rate of anaemia among both children and women in 2016.

The first phase of NFHS-5 was conducted before the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown. If current trends continue, India may miss the sustainable development goal 2 (achieving Zero Hunger by 2030).

India ranks 170 out of 180 countries for anaemia among women, according to global nutrition survey, 2016.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), women in the reproductive age group and having haemoglobin levels lower than 12 grams per decilitre (g / dL), as well as children under five with haemoglobin levels lower than 11.0 g / dL are considered anemic.

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