India’s population is said to be stabilising as the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has decreased across the majority of the country’s states. Of the 17 states analysed in the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), all states except Bihar, Manipur and Meghalaya have a TFR of 2.1 or less, which implies that most states have attained replacement level fertility. This is a remarkable development, Director of International Institute for Population Sciences, Dr KS James, said on Tuesday.
Dr James was participating in a webinar organised by the Population Foundation of India to discuss the first set of findings from the NFHS-5 conducted in 2019-20. Four years after the last survey (NFHS-4, 2015-16), the new findings merit urgent attention as they are considered the most comprehensive and robust data at scale on health and family welfare and emerging issues in the area, according to Executive Director of Population Foundation of India, Poonam Muttreja.
All 17 states have witnessed an increase in the use of modern contraceptives of family planning. The proportion of women with an unmet need for family planning, who want to stop or delay childbearing but are not using any method of contraception, has declined in all states except Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh. Except for Manipur, all states have reported an increase in users getting information on side effects of current contraceptive methods. Greater use of hygienic methods of protection by women during their menstrual periods in a number of states is among the key findings of the survey.
Country Director Dr Niranjan Saggurti of the Population Council, a research organisation, spoke about how family planning programmes were slightly impacted during the lockdown. “These programmes were disrupted during the lockdown, but have now bounced back to pre-Covid levels,” he said.
Participants also discussed the need to encourage male involvement in family planning methods. Female sterilisation continues to dominate as the modern method of contraceptives in states such as Andhra Pradesh (98%), Telangana (93%), Kerala (88%), Karnataka (84%), Bihar (78%) and Maharashtra (77%), according to the NFHS -5 findings.
Concern was also raised about teenage pregnancies, with states like Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland having shown an increase in the same. Along with an increase in child marriage, Tripura has also shown an increase in teenage pregnancies from 18.8% in 2015-16 to 21.9%.