India still has a high rate of malnutrition, reveals new National Health Survey

West Bengal has more wasted children than a decade ago

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Tuesday 19 January 2016

Credit: Soumik Mukherjee 

Malnutrition in India is still high and the number of malnourished children in West Bengal is more than it was a decade back, according to the fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), that was released recently by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

The ministry released trends regarding major indicators of health issues for the 13 states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal and the two union territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry. Data collection for the remaining states and union territories is currently ongoing under the second phase, a release by the ministry said.

As per the survey, West Bengal now has more children under five years of age, who are “wasted” and “severely wasted”, compared to the last national level survey held in 2005. According to the new survey report, 20.3 percent children in West Bengal are wasted and 6.5 percent are severely wasted. Around a decade back, only 16.9 percent children in the same age bracket were wasted and 4.5 percent were severely wasted.

Though there has been a little improvement in other states, when compared to the survey done in 2005, malnutrition among children is still high. The survey reports that states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya have more than 40 per cent of their children stunted. Wasting is still very high by international standards in all states/union territories.

Anaemia has also declined, but still remains widespread. More than half of the children in 10 of the 15 states/union territories are anaemic. Similarly, more than half of women are anaemic in 11 states/union Territories.

The 2015-16 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) is the fourth in a series of national surveys; earlier National Family Health Surveys were carried out in 1992-93 (NFHS-1), 1998-99 (NFHS-2) and 2005-06 (NFHS-3). NFHS-4 is the first of the NFHS series that collects data in each of India’s 29 States and all 7 Union Territories. Also, NFHS-4, for the first time, will provide estimates of most indicators at the district level for all 640 districts of the country included in the 2011 Census. In NFHS-4, women aged 15-49 years and men aged 15-54 years are interviewed. When the survey is completed throughout the country, approximately 570,000 households would be covered for information.

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