Survey finds Punjab not in pink of health | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Survey finds Punjab not in pink of health

The state has seen an increase in urban infant mortality rate and the immunisation coverage has plunged. Malnutrition and anaemia are widespread both among children and women, reports Vishav Bharti.

chandigarh Updated: Nov 21, 2008 23:25 IST
Vishav Bharti

Pregnant women still lack delivery care in Punjab. The state has seen an increase in urban infant mortality rate and the immunisation coverage has plunged. Malnutrition and anaemia are widespread both among children and women.

These are the findings of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), which was formally announced on Friday.

Infant mortality up in towns
The total infant and child mort ality rate has declined from 57 after 1,000 in NFHS-2 to 42 in the current survey. But in Punjab’s urban areas, infant and child mortality rate has increased from 38 to 40. NFHS-3 finds that despite declining mortality, more than one in 24 children in Punjab still die within the first year of life, and one in 19 die before reaching the age of five years. The condition of girls was worse. Sixteen deaths of girls per 1,000 children in the 12-59 months age group was detected as against six boys per 1,000 children. Punjab is ranked 12th on the infant and child mortality rate index.

The survey found that despite increase in institutional deliveries as compared to NFHS-2 in 1998-99, only 51 per cent of births in Punjab took place in a health facility. Half the deliveries in the state were conducted at home, and only about one-third of them were assisted by health personnel.

“Births at home are common among women who receive no ante-natal check-ups. The incidence is higher among rural, illiterate women and those belonging to the Scheduled Castes,” the survey found. Nearly 70 per cent of such women felt that it was not necessary to deliver in a health institution, while 28 per cent said going to a hospital was unaffordable.

Punjab ranked 10th on the institutional delivery index.

Though it is recommended that women receive post-natal check-up within two days of delivery, only 62 per cent of women in the state got checked up within that period, the survey found. Besides, 90 per cent pregnant women in Punjab received some kind of ante-natal care, though 75 per cent undertook three or more ante-natal care visits and 60 per cent received ante-natal care in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Though NFHS-3 found that malnutrition had declined, it was still a problem among children in Punjab. Nearly 37 per cent of children under the age of five years were stunted or too short for their age. This indicates they have been undernourished for sometime. Nearly 9 per cent of children were “wasted” or too thin for their height. Apart from them, 25 per cent of children under the age of five years were underweight. Nearly 66 per cent of children aged 6-59 months were anaemic. Of them, 7 per cent were severely anaemic.

Over the past seven years, the survey found, Punjab had failed to improve the condition of anaemic children between 6 and 35 months. The rate of anaemic children remained the same as it was estimated during NFHS-2.

Successful family planning
With smaller families becoming the norm, women in Punjab have also shown low fertility. At current fertility levels, a woman in Punjab will have an average of two children in her lifetime, which is almost one child lower than the national average. Fertility in Punjab, which was slightly higher than the replacement level at the time of NFHS-2, has dropped to below replacement level in NFHS-3. Apart from that contraceptive prevalence in Punjab is higher than the national average of 56 per cent.

Apart from children, 38 per cent of women in Punjab were also anaemic and nearly 45 per cent of women breastfeeding were anaemic.

The NFHS-3 is the third in a series of national surveys of population, health and nutrition. NFHS-1 was carried out in 1992-93 and NFHS-2 in 1998-99 under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, as the nodal agency.