Punjab slipping on health front: Survey

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Old 18-Nov-2008
Post Punjab slipping on health front: Survey

Chandigarh November 18:
Punjab is not in the pink of health. The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has worrying indicators for the state which is fast slipping up on immunization programme and its men have been left far behind by women gorging on fat rich diets.
A whopping 37.5% women and 30% men are obese while a sickening 80% children are anaemic. For the first time NFHS, commissioned in 1992, has taken into account social health of the state. Infamous for its male fixation, 25% women in the state are said to suffer from spousal violence. That they form the lower rung of social ladder is borne out by the fact that only 52% women have a say in household decisions.
The exhaustive data in NFHS-3, which will be released on November 21, has been compiled by the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, and aims to provide information on important emerging health and family welfare issues. What should make the authorities sit up and take note is the declining immunization cover in the state.
The number of fully immunized children in the age group of 12-23 months has fallen drastically - from 72% in the NFHS-2 spanning 1998-99 to 60% in 2005-06. Notably, despite the state contributing to national polio figures, only 75% of children in 12-23 month age group received three doses of polio as against 83% in 1998-99.
In another revelation, about 80% children in the 6-35 month group have been found to be anaemic. Four years of endeavour has done little to improve things on this front. Around 41.6% pregnant women, too, are anaemic as compared to 37% reported in 1998-99 - a telling comment on the health department's efforts.
On the brighter side, the percentage of institutional deliveries has gone up from a miserable 37.5% in 1998-99 and 24% in 1992-93 to 52.5% in 2005-06. In keeping with the national decline in fertility rate, the state has reported 1.9% fertility rate - much less than 2.21 reported in 1998-99 and 2.92 in 1992-93.
Known for their partiality to fat saturated food, an increasing number of Punjabis have been found to be "obese". Obesity has gone up among women, especially the educated and those residing in urban areas. As compared to 30% women in this bracket in 1998-99, 37.5% have been reported to be overweight in 2005-06. Worse still, 45% of these live in urban areas and 46% are well educated.
Surprisingly, spousal violence is not limited to rural or uneducated sections alone. Of the 25% women who reported spousal violence, 23% are from urban pockets and 13% are well educated. Less surprisingly, of the 52% women participating in household decisions, 57% live in urban areas and 50% are well educated.
The report also has handy recommendations and suggestions which the health authorities will look to implement if the next NFHS report - compiled every four years - must be made more robust and less anaemic.

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