National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) 2015-16: India


Since 1992, the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, has conducted the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The survey provides detailed information on population, health, and nutrition in each state and union territory of India.

The NFHS-4 (2015-16) surveyed 572,000 households in 640 districts of India (as per the 2011 Census). Data was collected between January 20, 2015 and December 4, 2016; 699,686 women (aged 15-49) and 122,051 men (aged 15-54) were interviewed. Previous NFHS surveys were conducted in 1992-93, 1998-99 and 2005-06.

The survey collected information on the socio-economic characteristics of households, education, fertility, family planning, infant and child mortality, maternal and child health, reproductive health, sexual behaviour, marriage, domestic violence, attitudes to gender roles, HIV/AIDS status, nutrition, water, sanitation, and health services and insurance. The survey also provides vital estimates of the prevalence of malnutrition, anaemia, hypertension and high blood sugar.

The information gathered by the survey is meant to assist policymakers in setting benchmarks and measuring progress in India’s health sector. 


  1. Of those interviewed for the survey, 86 per cent of the men and 68 per cent women were literate; 75 per cent of the men were employed as compared 24 per cent women.

  2. Of the households surveyed, 48 per cent used an ‘improved sanitation facility’ (which was not shared with other households); 9 per cent used a shared sanitation facility; and 39 per cent had no sanitation facility at all.

  3. Only 44 per cent of households used ‘clean fuel’ for cooking, that is, electricity, liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas or biogas. 

  4. The total fertility rate was 2.2 children per woman, down from 2.7 children in 2005-06. Only about 24 per cent of married women (aged 15-49) wanted to have another child. 

  5. Only 50 per cent of married women used modern contraceptives – and of these, 69 per cent got them through the public health sector. Female sterilisation remained the most-common method, used by 36 per cent of married women. 

  6. The median age for first marriage was 18.6 years for women and 24.5 years for men. The survey noted that 14 per cent of marriages were consanguineous – that is, between second cousins or even closer relatives. This was more common in all the southern states except Kerala.

  7. The proportion of women (aged 15-49) who received antenatal care (during pregnancy) rose from 80 per cent in 2005-06 to 84 per cent in 2015-16. Deliveries at health facilities increased significantly in the same period, from 39 per cent to 79 per cent.

  8. The under-five mortality rate and infant mortality rate were highest in Uttar Pradesh and

    lowest in Kerala. They were considerably higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
  9. 63 per cent of children aged 12-23 months received all their basic vaccinations, as compared to 44 per cent in 2005-06. 

  10. Only 54 per cent of children under the age of 6 received any service from an aanganwadi centre, and only 54 per cent for pregnant women and 49 per cent breastfeeding women.

  11. Of the children born in the last five years, only 42 per cent were breastfed within one hour of birth, as recommended. 38 per cent of children under the age of 5 were stunted for their age; 21 per cent were thin for their height; 36 per cent were underweight; and 2 per cent were overweight. Children born to mothers with no schooling were more likely to be undernourished. 

  12. Less than 29 per cent of the households surveyed had at least one member covered by health insurance or under a health scheme, while 69 per cent of the population had an Aadhaar card.

  13. The proportion of deaths due to non-medical reasons (accidents, violence, poisoning, homicides or suicides) was higher among men (12 per cent) than women (8 per cent). The deaths due to non-medical reasons peaked for both men and women in the 15-29 age group.

  14. The prevalence of HIV among women and men (aged 15-49) decreased from 0.28 per cent to 0.24 per cent between 2005-06 and 2015-16. This was due to a decrease in HIV prevalence among men, which dropped from 0.36 per cent to 0.25 per cent between 2005-06 and 2015-16. 

  15. 53 per cent women and 23 per cent men aged 15-49 had anaemia, and around 305 persons per 100,000 had medically treated tuberculosis. The prevalence of tuberculosis was higher among women (389 per 100,000) than among men (220 per 100,000). 

  16. 27 per cent of women had experienced physical violence from the age of 15, and 31 per cent of married women experienced spousal violence – physical, sexual or emotional. The most common type of spousal violence was physical violence (27 per cent of cases), and emotional violence (13 per cent). Only 14 per cent of women who had experienced physical or sexual violence by anyone sought help to stop it.

    Focus and Factoids by Tarun Gidwani.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai

Contributors: Balram Paswan, S.K. Singh, Hemkhothang Lhungdim, Chander Shekhar, Fred Arnold, Sunita Kishor, Abhishek Singh, Dhananjay W. Bansod, Manoj Alagarajan, Laxmi Kant Dwivedi, Sarang Pedgaonkar and Manas R. Pradhan 


Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India 


Dec, 2017