Anaemia in women and children on the rise, Assam fares worst: NFHS-5

Men, irrespective of age group, have reported the lowest increase in the incidence of anaemia according to NFHS-5 data
In rural areas of India, 68.3 per cent children are anaemic, while the urban load stands at 64.2 per cent, according to NFHS-5. Photo: istock
In rural areas of India, 68.3 per cent children are anaemic, while the urban load stands at 64.2 per cent, according to NFHS-5. Photo: istock

Anaemia continues to remain widespread in India as its prevalence across age and gender groups has increased. Anaemia has increased by 2-9 per cent among children, pregnant and non-pregnant women and men according to data shared in the National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS-5) released  November 24, 2021.

The largest spike is seen in children between the ages of six and 59 months, where 67.1 per cent are anaemic, as compared to 58.6 per cent in NFHS-4 conducted in 2015-2016. In rural areas, 68.3 per cent children are anaemic, while the urban load stands at 64.2 per cent.

The second highest increase is recorded in women between the ages of 15 and 19, up from 54.1 in 2015-2016 to 59.1 in 2019-2021. Here too, more young women in rural areas (56.5 per cent) are anaemic as compared to urban areas (60.2 per cent).

All women between the ages of 15 and 49 years reported a four per cent increase in incidence of anaemia, up from 53.1 per cent in 2015-2016 to 57 per cent in 2019-2021.

Meanwhile, the percentage of pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 49 years who are anaemic has increased to 52.2 per cent now, from 50.4 per cent in 2015-2016.

Men, irrespective of age group, have reported the lowest increase in the incidence of anaemia, at 2.3 per cent for those between the ages of 15 and 49 — up to 25 per cent now from 22.7 per cent in 2015-2016. Among them, younger men, between 15 and 19, have shown a 1.9 per cent increase to 31.1 per cent now, from 29.2 per cent.

Figures for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have shown an upward trend in anaemic cases between now and 2015-2016. A 2-6 per cent increase has been recorded in all age groups for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, while Rajasthan is the worst among them with a 9-12 per cent increase.

Assam is among the worst performing states, with a huge spike in anaemic cases. The figure for children has increased to 68.4 per cent (NFHS 5) from 35.7 per cent (NFHS-4).

The figure for pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 49 now stands at 54.2 per cent, up from 44.8 per cent, while the figure for all women increased to 65.9 per cent (NFHS-5) from 46 per cent (NFHS-4). Like the all-India figure, the figure for anaemia in men is slightly better at 36 per cent (NFHS-5), up from 25.4 per cent (NFHS-4).

Chhattisgarh too paints a similar picture, with a 26 per cent increase in children, a 10-15 per cent increase for women and five per cent increase for men. As does Gujarat, with a 17 per cent increase in anaemic cases in children and a 3-10 per cent in other age groups. Maharashtra has recorded a 4-15 per cent increase across all age groups.

Haryana’s figures have come down marginally by 1-2 per cent, while figures for Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh are mostly the same. Meghalaya is one of the better performing states, recording a 3-8 per cent drop across all age groups. Uttarakhand too has done better than most, recording a marginal decline in some age groups and maintaining the same figure in others.

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