New Delhi: The state best known for its arid climate and Thar desert, Rajasthan has more than 75 per cent of its total population living in rural areas. Keeping the massive rural population in consideration, the state government of Rajasthan (GoR) launched two flagship schemes in 2011 – Chief Minister’s Free Medicines Scheme and Chief Minister’s Free Diagnosis Scheme, which aim to reduce health expenses of the people by providing free diagnosis and free medicines to the patients visiting government hospitals. Along with these, Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojna (BSBY) is the third flagship scheme being run by the state government of Rajasthan. BSBY consider woman as the head-of-the-family, and transfer all financial benefits to her, giving women the charge of deciding the expenses. With these efforts, Rajasthan has been able to improve its performance to some extent in terms of health, as reported by NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog’s annual health index that ranks states on health parameters including total fertility rate and sex ratio, healthcare facilities, and others. However, the rural Rajasthan continues to struggle to provide its people with adequate health facilities which is reflected in its performance on the important health indicators like infant mortality, malnutrition and anaemia.
Here are the major health indicators to give a quick look at Rajasthan’s health status:
- Rural Rajasthan’s Infant Mortality Rate Is Higher Than The Urban Areas: The infant mortality rate (IMR) in Rajasthan according to the fourth and latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4) is estimated at 41 deaths before the age of one year per 1,000 live births. Apart from the fact that it is at par with the national rate of 41 deaths per 1,000 births, this is approximately 37 per cent decrease from the NFHS 3 estimate of 65 deaths before the age of one year per 1,000 live births. Even after a downward trend in IMR, it is important to note that the situation of infant mortality is poor in rural areas. IMR is higher in rural areas at 44 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to urban areas which is at 31 deaths per 1,000 live births. This indicates that the state is yet to meet the healthcare demands of women in the child-bearing age and children, especially the new-borns.
- Under-Five Mortality In Rural Rajasthan Is Almost Twice As High In As Urban Areas: At the state level, mortality among children under five years of age (U5MR) has seen a decline of 40 per cent from 85 deaths per 1,000 live births in NFHS 3 in 2005-06 to 51 deaths in NFHS 4. In terms of under-five mortality, the state is almost at par with the national rate which is 50 deaths per 1,000 live births. In rural areas, however, U5MR is almost twice that of urban areas.
- Malnutrition Among Children Under Five Years Of Age, A Challenge For Rajasthan: In Rajasthan, 39 per cent of children under the age of five years are stunted or too short for their age, which indicates that they have been undernourished for some time. 23 per cent are wasted, or too thin for their height and 36.7 per cent are underweight. According to NFHS-4, children’s nutritional status measured in terms of stunting and underweight in Rajasthan has improved since NFHS-3. Stunting among children decreased from 44 per cent to 39 per cent in the 10 years between NFHS-3 and NFHS4, and the percentage of children who are underweight decreased from 40 per cent to 37 per cent. However, in the same period, wasting among children increased from 20 per cent to 23 per cent. Despite the positive changes in stunting and underweight, child malnutrition is still a major problem in Rajasthan, especially in rural areas.
- Anaemia Is Widely Prevalent Among Children And Women In Rajasthan: Anaemia is a condition that is marked by low levels of haemoglobin in the blood and the deficiency of Iron is estimated to be responsible for most cases of anaemia but as per health experts, the condition can also be caused by malaria, nutritional deficiencies, infections, and genetic conditions. Anaemia is a major health problem in Rajasthan, especially among women and children. More than 60 per cent of children under the age of five in the state are anaemic with more prevalence in the rural areas (61.6 per cent) than in the urban areas (55.7 per cent).Forty-seven per cent of women in age group 15-49 in Rajasthan have anaemia.
Among women also, it is found that in the sample interviewed for the survey, anaemia was high for women living the rural areas (49 per cent) than in the urban areas (40.7 per cent).
- With Just A Slight Decline In Diarrhoeal Cases, Rajasthan Is Far From Tackling The Disease: The state has been able to reduce Diarrhoea cases by only 3.5 per cent in the past one year, according to the National Health Profile (NHP) 2019 report developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India. As per the report, Diarrhoea cases in the state in 2017 were 9.71 lakh whereas in 2018 it decreased to 9.36 lakh. There has been one case of Diarrhoeal death in 2018 as reported by NHP 2019 which was same in 2017 as well. The state contributes about 7.09 per cent to the total number Diarrhoeal cases in the country which was almost 1.3 crore (1,31,94,775) in 2018.
Note: For the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4, information for Rajasthan was gathered from a sample of over 34,915 households, which covered 41,965 women, and 5,892 men. In NFHS 3,892 information was collected from households including 3,892 women and 1,471 men.