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


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 2015-16 (NFHS-4) survey provides detailed information on population, health and nutrition in each state and union territory of India.

This state report on Meghalaya presents the important findings of the survey’s fourth round, conducted in all seven districts of the state between April 6 and September 19, 2015. Previous NFHS surveys were conducted in 1992-93, 1998-99 and 2005-06.

NFHS-4 surveyed 572,000 households in 640 districts of India (as per the 2011 Census). In Meghalaya, data was gathered from 7,327 households; 9,201 women (aged 15-49) and 1,236 men (aged 15-54) were interviewed.

The survey collected information on the socio-economic characteristics of households, education, fertility, family planning, infant and child mortality and maternal and child health. It also gathered information on reproductive health, sexual behaviour, marriage, domestic violence, and attitudes towards gender roles. And it included information on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, nutrition, water and sanitation, health services and insurance.


  1. Around 22 per cent of the surveyed households in Meghalaya were in urban areas. On average, each household had 5.1 members and 30 per cent of all families were headed by women.

  2. The survey of heads of households by religion found that 77 per cent were Christian, 11 per cent were Hindu and 5 per cent were Muslim. The survey of heads of households by caste/tribe found that 88 per cent belonged to the Scheduled Tribes, 3 per cent to the Scheduled Castes.

  3. The overall sex ratio was 1,005 females per 1,000 males and the sex ratio of the under-7 population was 991 females per 1,000 males.

  4. 43 per cent of the surveyed households lived in a pucca (permanent) structure, 91 per cent had electricity, 8 per cent defecated in the open, and 24 per cent had piped drinking water.

  5. 90 per cent of children between 6 and 17 attended school. In the 6-14 age group, school attendance was 94 per cent, while it was 75 per cent among children between 15 and 17.

  6. 83 per cent of women and 84 per cent of men (both in the 15-49 age group) were literate, that is, they had either completed Class 6 or passed a simple literacy test conducted by NFHS-4.

  7. The total fertility rate was 3 children per woman, well above the 2.1 replacement-level fertility (a steady population replacement rate over time). Fertility in urban areas was 1.7 children per woman; it was 3.5 in rural areas. Women with no schooling had 2.3 more children than women with 12 or more years of schooling.

  8. 21 per cent of women wanted more daughters than sons, which perhaps points to Meghalaya’s matriarchal social structure; however, 14 per cent wanted more sons than daughters. Among men, 21 per cent wanted more sons and 18 per cent want more daughters.

  9. The infant mortality rate was 30 deaths before the age of 1 per 1,000 live births. The infant and child mortality rates were lower for girls than for boys.

  10. 80 per cent of women who gave birth in the 5 years preceding the survey received antenatal care from a health professional (a doctor, an auxiliary nurse midwife, a ‘lady health visitor’, a nurse or a midwife). Only 51 per cent births took place in a health facility (mostly a government facility).

  11. 62 per cent of 12-23 month-old children had received all the basic vaccinations against six major childhood illnesses (tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio and measles) before the survey.

  12. 93 per cent of children were breastfed on the first day of life and 61 per cent started breastfeeding in the first hour after birth, which gave them the nutritious first breast milk (colostrum). Only 36 per cent of children under 6 months were exclusively breastfed.

  13. 44 per cent of children under 5 were stunted (too short for their age), 15 per cent wasted (low weight for height), 7 per cent severely wasted, and 29 per cent underweight.

  14. 52 per cent women and 31 per cent men were anaemic. According to self-reports, 542 persons of every 100,000 were estimated to have medically treated tuberculosis. The number of women with heart disease was 3,813 per 100,000, almost double of that for men (1,950 per 100,000).

  15. 35 per cent of the surveyed households had health insurance that covered at least one member of the family.

  16. 37 per cent of all women and 44 per cent of all men believed that it is justifiable for a husband to beat his wife under certain circumstances. 28 per cent of the women surveyed in Meghalaya had experienced physical or sexual violence. Of these, only 12 per cent had sought help. 

    Factoids and Focus by Abizar Shaikh.


International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai

Contributors: H. Lhungdim, S.K. Singh, Laxmi Kant Dwivedi and Fred Arnold


Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi


01 Sep, 2017