India Improves on Health Indicators, but Reality Is Still Bleak

How are Indian families faring on health indicators? The Health Ministry recently released the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 (NFHS 4).

The survey has shown positive trends in key health indicators, including an improvement in sex ratio at birth and a decline in infant mortality rate during 2015-16. However, putting them in context, they reveal some dark realities.

Sex ratio at birth (number of girls per 1,000 boys), only slightly increased from 914 to 919 nationally in a decade. But the difference between overall sex ratio and that at birth in the last 5 years is glaring in most major states.

Obesity, among both men and women, has seen an increase of 9.3% and 8.1%, respectively.

There has been an improvement in almost all childhood health indicators, pointing to the fact that many Indian children are doing better than they ever have.

However, there is a long way to go: India's IMR of 41 still lags behind other poorer neighbours such as Bangladesh (31), Nepal (29), and African countries of Rwanda (31) and Botswana (35).

Kerala has single-handedly brought down the IMR. And reports say that it’s as good as America. After leading in female literacy for decades, the state now has the highest sex ratio at birth in India, where there are 1,047 girls for 1,000 boys.

Other bright spots are improved drinking water, sanitation and clean cooking fuel in households.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS.)