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Four cheers for the NFHS-IV

Blog Post1 min read

Great news in today's Times of India: the NFHS -- India's version of the internationally standardized Demographic and Health Surveys -- is coming back from the near-dead four a fourth round (National health survey not nixed). This is the most important health data set about India. At (on the order of) over $10 million dollars a survey round, this is a very cheap public investment in Indian health. Without it, as the article only somewhat exaggerates, "There is no way of knowing whether the government's schemes are working or whether it will meet its targets."

Better yet, there is a promise that the data will henceforth come out every three years, and will include district identifiers, the absence of which was a major limitation of the third round of the NFHS. As I like to point out (and probably did too rudely to the DHS representative at a recent demography conference; apologies), districts in India are bigger than many countries. Here in Sitapur, we are among 4.5 million people, which I recently learned is about the population of Norway.

Interestingly, the article suggested the original cancellation caused "suspicion that the health ministry wanted to suppress the NFHS' unflattering findings." This seemed to me less likely than that the government was disappointed that people weren't using its own (somewhat similar) DLHS survey. Whatever the original cause, this is good news!

Hat tip to Upneet Singh, Varad Pande, and Neelakshi Mann, who emailed me this.

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r.i.c.e. is a non-profit research organization focused on health and well-being in India. Our core focus is on children in rural north India. Our research studies health care at the start of life, sanitation, air pollution, maternal health, social inequality, and other dimensions of population-level social wellbeing.

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