New Delhi: Known as the “Food Basket of India”, the state of Punjab is the largest contributor of wheat and rice in the central pool of the nation, as per the Department of Agriculture, Government of Punjab. Being dominated by agriculture, the state has about 11 lakh farmers out of its total population of almost 2.8 crore, as per the Population Census 2011. Out of the total population, about 63 per cent live in the rural areas. While the agriculture census of the state boasts of high production of nutritious crops like wheat, jowar and bajara and has abundant stock of fruits like kinnow, more than 50 per cent children and women in the state suffer from deficiency diseases like anaemia and problem of having poor weight for height, as per the fourth and latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4).
The government of Punjab has been running two major schemes to cater to the healthcare needs of children and mothers – Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) and Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK) which provide free health screening to children from 0-18 years and free of cost deliveries at public hospitals respectively. However, in its second edition of evaluating the health index, the NITI (National Institution of Transforming India) Aayog reported a decrease in the rank of the State from second in 2018 to fifth in 2019.
Here is a look at are some of the major health indicators of Punjab:
- Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) Shows A Downward Trend: The infant mortality rate in Punjab in fourth and latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) is estimated at 29 deaths before the age of one year per 1,000 live births in 2015-16. This is a reduction of almost 30.95 per cent from the findings of NFHS-3 when IMR was at 42 deaths per 1,000 births in 2005-06. The state is performing better than the average in terms of IMR which stands at 41 deaths per 1,000 births in NFHS-4. The infant mortality rate is considerably higher in rural areas with 34 deaths per 1,000 live births than in urban areas with 22 deaths per 1,000 live births, as per NFHS-4.
- Under Five Child Mortality Rate In Rural Areas Is Higher Than In Urban Areas: The NFHS- 4 data reports that the state has performed well in reducing its under-five child mortality rate (U5CMR) which is 33 deaths per 1,000 live births, down substantially by 36.53 per cent from the NFHS-3 findings of 52 deaths per 1,000 births. On the U5CMR parameter as well, Punjab is performing better than the national average that stands at 50 death per 1,000 live births. Like IMR, U5CMR is quite high in the rural areas (39 WHAT) as compared to the urban areas (25 deaths per 1,000 births).
- One In Every Four Children Under The Age Of Five Suffers Stunting In Punjab: Malnutrition which is the imbalance of nutrition can cause various hurdles in the healthy growth of a child. The state of Punjab has been able to tackle malnutrition to some extent and is performing better than the national average on this parameter. According to NFHS-4, in 2015-16, 25.7 per cent of all children, in other words, one in every four children under the age of five are still stunted or have low height-for-age. This is almost 11 per cent lower than the stunting reported in NFHS-3. The number of underweight children has also gone down. While in 2005-06, about 25 per cent children were underweight, in 2015-16 the status improved by 3.3. per cent and NFHS-4 reported that 21.6 per cent of the total children surveyed, are underweight. However, wasting or low weight-for-height among children has increased from 9.2 per cent in 2005 to 15.6 per cent in 2015-16. Wasting occurs due to inadequate food intake or a recent illness-causing weight loss.
- More Than 50 Per Cent Children And Women In Punjab Are Anaemic: Anaemia is a condition that is marked by low levels of haemoglobin in the blood. Iron deficiency is estimated to be responsible for about half of all anaemia globally, but anaemia can also be caused by malaria, nutritional deficiencies, chronic infections, and genetic conditions. According to NFHS-4, anaemia can cause maternal mortality, weakness, reduced physical and mental capacity, increased morbidity from infectious diseases, premature delivery, low birth weight, and impaired cognitive performance and motor development in children. Anaemia is a major health problem in Punjab, especially among women and children. Among children between the ages of 6 and 59 months, a majority (57 per cent) are anaemic. The report says that children of mothers who have anaemia are more likely to be anaemic.
- Anaemia is particularly high for women aged 15-49 years. Anaemia among women has increased substantially (by 16 per cent) from 38 per cent in NFHS-3 to 53.3 per cent in NFHS-4.Anaemia among women has increased substantially (by 16 per cent) from 38 per cent in NFHS-3 to 53.3 per cent in NFHS-4.
- Number Of Diarrhoeal Deaths In Punjab Has Increased By More Than 22 Per Cent In Past One Year: While the state has been able to reduce the number of Diarrhoea cases by almost 15.74 per cent from 2.03 lakh in 2017 to 1.71 lakh in 2018, according to the National Health Profile (NHP) 2019 report developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India. However, the number of deaths due to by Diarrhoea has increased by more than 22 per cent from 35 in 2017 to 43 in 2018. Out of the total cases of Diarrhoea in India in 2018 ,which was almost 1.3 crore (1,31,94,775), Punjab contributed to about 1.3 per cent.
Note: For the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4, information for Punjab was gathered from a sample of over 16,449 households, which covered 19,484 women, and 3,027 men. In NFHS 3, information was collected from 2,968 households including 3,681 women and 1,329 men.