3 min read.Updated: 21 Jan 2021, 09:15 PM ISTRashmi Kundu,howindialives.com
Gujarat has high per capita income and an enviable industrial sector. But it has a lot of progress to make on health and other social parameters
Earlier this week, the Gujarat government renamed the dragon fruit as Kamalam, its explanation being that its outer shape resembles that of a lotus. This symbolic act has drawn criticism for the state’s priorities, especially during a global pandemic. Here are five areas of greater significance that the Gujarat administration could be focusing on to generate better outcomes for the people of the state.
Sex ratio is the number of females per 1,000 males. In the last five years, the sex ratio of Gujarat has improved marginally from 950 females per 1,000 males to 965 females per 1,000 males, according to data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2019-20. This, however, falls way short of states like West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka and even Bihar.
Interestingly, for population above the age of 60 years, the sex ratio in Gujarat is skewed towards females, especially in its rural areas. There are 1,258 females per 1,000 males above the age of 60 years in rural Gujarat.
Infant mortality rate
With development in health infrastructure, the infant mortality rate in India has reduced from 110 deaths per 1,000 births in the 1980s to 47 deaths per 1,000 births in the 2010s. At 4.4 deaths per 1,000 births, Kerala has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the nation, according to NFHS 2019-20.
In Bihar, 79% of births are conducted by skilled health professionals; as a result, its infant mortality rate is a high 46.8. In Gujarat, 93% of births are conducted by skilled health professionals, and it records a high infant mortality rate of 31 deaths per 1,000 births.
Among Indian states, Gujarat has one of the highest per capita annual household incomes, according to data from the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI) conducted in 2017-18. At ₹56,802, it is higher than that of Maharashtra ( ₹52,508) and Karnataka ( ₹54,498). Although a prosperous state, only 5.9% of children in Gujarat aged 6-23 months receive an adequate diet. As a consequence, the percentage of children in the state under the age of five who are stunted (height-for-age) is 39%. Bihar, with a much lower per capita annual household income of ₹26,628, has 42.9% of its children under the age of five who are stunted (height-for-age).
The World Health Organization considers access to improved sanitation facilities as one of the most important aspects of public health. Open defecation leads to grave impacts on public health and can cause various diseases. In spite of efforts towards universal sanitation coverage accelerating in India, a huge proportion of the population still practices open defecation.
About 19.7% of households in Gujarat still do not have access to improved sanitation facilities, according to LASI 2017-18. As a result, they resort to open defecation. It is more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas. About 38% of rural households in India practice open defecation. At 30%, the numbers of rural Gujarat are not too far from the national average.
Usage of clean cooking fuel
Quality of life is determined by the type of house one lives in and its immediate environment. Cooking is an essential activity in any household. The kind of fuel used to cook contributes significantly to indoor pollution—and, as a result, an individual’s overall health and well-being. While LPG dominates as a cooking fuel in urban India, used by 88.3% of households, rural India still prefers using wood/shrub. According to LASI 2017-18, about 50.8% of households in rural India use wood/shrub, while just 34.9% use LPG. In Gujarat, only 54.5% households use clean cooking fuel, much lower than other states like Maharashtra.
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