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India Starts Collecting Data For 5th National Family Health Survey

India has started collecting data for the 5th National Family Health Survey (NFHS) that provides information on population, health and nutrition for the entire country.

“The data collection for the first phase of the survey began about two weeks ago,” confirmed Dr KS James, director of Mumbai-based International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS), which conducts the survey for the government.

There are no major additions in the questionnaire from the previous survey, except for the expansion of age-group for determining certain parameters.

“All household members will be considered for certain biomarkers such as determining haemoglobin levels. Earlier it was 15 plus. Apart from that, there is no substantial shift in the questionnaire,” he said.

The survey covers a sample size of 0.7 million households. In the first phase, 50% of the 36 States and union territories will be covered.

The survey was to begin last year as after the NFHS-4 results were out for the year 2015-16, the government had decided to conduct the survey every three years instead of the previously followed pattern of 10 years.

The results for the first phase will come out by December this year and for the second phase, it should be out by May next year. By mid 2020, the survey results for NFHS-5 are expected to be released.

Special arrangements have been made for the first time to avoid discrepancies while collecting data that includes 67 indicators that have been specifically created for quality control.

“We will have ‘supervisor computers’ this year to check any discrepancy on a daily basis, and the surveyor’s will immediately be asked to revisit the identified household to cross check data. The data won’t be locked until the discrepancy is solved,” said James.

The government’s focus is also shifting towards improving the quality of data that is being produced within the country, especially making better use of technology.

The Indian Council of Medical Research, in partnership with Population Council of India, launched the National Data Quality Forum (NDQF) on Wednesday that aims to strengthen the data ecosystem in the country.

“There’s a need for complete, consistent, accurate and reliable data in general and for health and medical research in particular. This initiative is a step towards generating reliable data to help in policy-making,” said Dr Balram Bhargava, director-general, ICMR. – Hindustan Times

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