NFHS-5 data suggest improvement on various social indicators

Synopsis: Overall trends of NFHS data suggest an improvement in population control, use of modern contraception, reproductive and child health, immunisation and social determinants of health. 


The National Family Health Survey-round 5 (NFHS-5) covers about 6.1 lakh sample households to provide estimates for 707 districts. In the first phase, data from 22 states and UTs has been released from the latest survey conducted in 2019-2020. 

What are the major findings in the first phase of the report? 

  • One, the data on Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has come down to 2.1 or below (replacement level) in all states and UTs. Bihar (3), Meghalaya (2.9) and Manipur (2.2) are exceptions in this.  
  • Two, the data shows that the overall use of modern methods of contraception has increased in 20 out of 22 states. The most dominant method being female sterilisation. 
  • Three, the data confirms that the number of women marrying before the legal age has reduced in 17 out of 22 states and UTs, with Nagaland, Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir and Sikkim as the top performers. 
      •  Indicators on teenage marriage and childbearing have also improved in 17 states/UTs. 
  • Four, 17 of 22 states/UTs saw an increase in antenatal care visits during the first trimester (Nagaland, Bihar and West Bengal saw the highest rise). 
  • Five, the data shows consumption of IFA tablets by pregnant women for 180 days or more has increased in almost all states/UTs (except Karnataka) albeit this has not resulted in reduction in anaemia levels among pregnant women. 
      • There is a need to consider adding IFA tablets which contain more natural sources of iron, folic acid and other micronutrients in the diet. 
  • Six, 14 out of 22 states and UTs had more than 90 percent of new-borns delivered in institutional facilities and 14 out of 22 states/UTs have seen a drop in neonatal mortality. 

What does the NFHS data suggest on the indicators of women empowerment? 

Women’s empowerment is a widespread concept. However, indicators like household decision making, control over personal hygiene choices and possessions like bank accounts and mobile phones are decent indirect means for evaluation. 

  • The data indicates that the majority of women (80 percent) participated in at least three household decisions. 
  • Hygienic methods of protection during menstruation are being used by more than 64 per cent of younger women in each of the 22 states/UTs, except Bihar at 59 per cent. 
  • Personal possessions such as mobile phone and bank account have increased to over 70 per cent across each of the 22 states/UTs of India (except Nagaland) in 2019-2020 amongst women. 

What does the NFHS data indicate about the public health in India? 

  • All states and UTs show a drastic increase in the number of households with a constructed toilet, improved drinking water and clean cooking fuels which are the indicators critical in improving public health in India.  
  • There has been a rise in malnutrition rates, wasting and underweight children in half of the states which reported an increase in exclusive breastfeeding and adequacy of diets.  
      • Stunting can be affected by multiple factors such as indicators of the mother a child, financial situation, adequacy of diets, water and sanitation facilities, as well as interventions for nutrition promotion and health.  
  • NFHS-5 data also show an increase in the rates of obesity in children and risk factors for chronic diseases in adults like hypertension and blood glucose. 


One should not simplify these results for the whole country because data from phase 2 is yet to come and summary figures may oversee how relative health and nutritional results of the population can be. 


Read more : National Family Health Survey

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