India’s fertility rate drops below replacement level

India’s fertility rate drops below replacement level

More than half of the children and women, including pregnant ones, were found anaemic

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

At 2.0, the total fertility rate has dropped below the replacement level for the first while more than half of the children and women, including pregnant ones, were found anaemic, according to the phase-II report of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).

The government on Wednesday released the factsheets of key indicators on population, reproductive and child health, family welfare, nutrition and others for India and 14 states and UTs, clubbed under phase-II of the 2019-21 NFHS-5.

The states and UTs which were surveyed in the second phase were Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The findings of NFHS-5 for 22 states and UTs were covered in phase one, which was released in December last year.

The report said the overall contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) has increased substantially from 54 per cent to 67 per cent at the all-India level and in almost all Phase-II states/UTs with an exception of Punjab. 

Nationally, the total fertility rates (TFR) or the average number of children per woman has declined from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 2.0 in 2019-21. The TFR for urban areas is 1.6 while it is 2.1 for rural areas.

For the 14 states and UTs, it ranged from 1.4 in Chandigarh to 2.4 in Uttar Pradesh. All phase-II states have achieved replacement levels of fertility (2.1) except Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and UP.

Except for Bihar, Manipur and Meghalaya, all 22 states and UTs surveyed in the first phase of NFHS-5 have a TFR of 2.1 or less.

When it comes to gender violence, there was a slight decline from 31.2 per cent to 29.3 per cent for married women aged 18-49 years. Spousal violence is defined as physical and/or sexual violence. The survey said 3.1 per cent of married women (18-49 years) have experienced physical violence during pregnancy.

According to the survey, 1.5 per cent of young women in the age group 18-29 experienced sexual violence by age 18.

The child nutrition indicators have shown a “slight” improvement as stunting has declined from 38 per cent to 36 per cent, wasting from 21 per cent to 19 per cent and underweight from 36 per cent to 32 per cent.

“Anaemia among children and women continues to be a cause of concern. More than half of the children and women (including pregnant women) are anaemic in all the phase-II states/UTs and all-India levels compared to NFHS4, in spite of a substantial increase in the composition of iron-folic acid (IFA) tablets by pregnant women for 180 days or more,” it said.

On exclusive breastfeeding to children under six months, the survey said it has improved from 55 per cent in 2015-16 to 64 per cent in 2019-21. 

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