Diarrhoea in children under 5 more prevalent in rural India: NFHS-5

Bihar reported the highest prevalence of the disease
Diarrhoea in children under 5 more prevalent in rural India: NFHS-5

A higher proportion of children under the age of five in the villages had diarrhoea than their counterparts in the cities in 17 of the 22 Indian states and Union territories (UT) covered by the 2019-2020 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5). 

This urban-rural gap was significant in Maharastra — in the two weeks prior to the survey, 6.6 per cent children in the urban areas and 10.7 per cent in the rural areas had the disease.

The western state was followed by Gujarat where 5.7 per cent children in the cities and 9.7 per cent in the villages contracted diarrhoea.

Bihar reported the highest rural (12.6 per cent) and urban (13.9 per cent) prevalence among major states.  

In Sikkim, Ladakh, Meghalaya, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Mizoram there is a higher prevalence of diarrhoeal diseases in urban areas as compared to rural areas.

Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of deaths in children in this age group globally and claims approximately 1.1 lakh lives in India every year.

Compared to the findings in NFHS-4, the prevalance of disease in children under five increased in half of the states and UTs covered in the recent survey.  

Bihar recorded the highest overall prevalence in diarrhoeal diseases, up from 10.4 per cent in NHFS-4 to 13.7 per cent in NHFS-5.

This was followed by Meghalaya at 10.4 per cent, Maharashtra at 8.9 per cent and Ladakh at 8.5 per cent.

In the five years since the last survey, the prevalence reduced in states like Jammu & Kashmir (5.6 per cent), Himachal Pradesh (4.7 per cent), Mizoram (4.3 per cent), Nagaland (3.4 per cent), Telengana (7.4 per cent), Goa(3.2 per cent) and Lakshadweep (2.3 per cent). 

The diseases burden, however, grew the most in Ladakh and Sikkim. Prevalence in Ladakh went from 3.1 per cent in 2015-2016 to 8.5 per cent in 2019-2020 and that in Sikkim went from 1.8 per cent in the previous survey to 5.5 per cent in the latest. 

Many studies link higher cases of diarrhoea to inadequate sanitation facility, unsafe drinking water, low socioeconomic status,malnutrition, poor maternal literacy, among others. 

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