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.
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.
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.