Express News Service
BHUBANESWAR: Infusion of crores of money on child and maternity healthcare notwithstanding, nutritional deficiency in children and women worsened in the last five years in Odisha as two in every three children of six to 59 months and women of 15 to 49 years respectively are anaemic. The anaemic population, in fact, has grown alarmingly in the last half a decade.
As per the National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS-5) statistics released on Wednesday, the highest spike has been recorded among the children where 64.2 per cent (pc) are anaemic as compared to 44.6 pc in NFHS-4 conducted in 2015-2016. While 65.6 pc children are anaemic in rural areas, more than half of the urban children (56.2 pc) are also suffering from anaemia.
Around 64.3 pc pregnant women, aged 15-49 years, are anaemic as against 51 pc during the last survey. Among non-pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 19, it is up from 51 pc in 2015-2016 to 65.5 in 2020-2021. More young women in rural areas (66.3 pc) are anaemic as compared to urban areas (61.4 pc).
The latest NFHS statistics also indicated that son-preference has emerged as the new epidemic in Odisha as the sex ratio at birth (females per 1,000 males) in the last five years has come down from 932 during 2015-16 to 894 in 2020-21. The sex ratio is more alarming in rural areas as it was 885 at birth compared to 950 in the urban localities. Though, sex ratio of the overall population of the State has improved to 1,063 from 1,036.
On a positive side, there has been slight improvement in infant, neonatal and under-five mortality rates as the infant mortality rate (IMR), neo-natal mortality rate (NNMR) and and under-five mortality rate (U5MR) stood at 36.3, 27 and 41.1 as compared to 39.6, 28.2 and 48.1 respectively, five years ago.
Similarly, the nutritional status of children has improved as stunting, wasting and population of underweight children have come down to 31 pc from 34.1 pc, 18.1 pc from 20.4 pc and 29.7 pc from 34.3 pc. While the share of severely wasted children stood at 6.1 pc as compared to 6.4 pc last time, the percentage of those overweight rose from 2.6 to 3.5. Nutrition expert Basanta Kar said the NFHS-5 result calls for emergency actions to address the rising double burden on malnutrition, an impending famine impairing humanity.