National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 2019-21: Tamil Nadu


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, Government of India. The NFHS report for 2019-21 is the fifth in this series. It provides information on population, health and nutrition in 28 states, eight union territories, and 707 districts of India.

NFHS-5 presents district-level data on indicators such as population, fertility, family planning, infant and child mortality, maternal and child health, domestic violence and disability. This report on Tamil Nadu – published in December 2021 – presents information covering 32 districts. School of Public Health, SRM University, Chennai, conducted the fieldwork for the report between January 6 and March 21, 2020, and from December 21, 2020, to March 31, 2021, covering 27,929 households, 25,650 women (aged 15-49 years) and 3,372 men (aged 15-54 years).

This 206-page document is divided into 14 sections: Introduction (Section 1); Household Characteristics (Section 2); Education (Section 3); Fertility (Section 4); Family Planning (Section 5); Infant and Child Mortality (Section 6); Maternal Health (Section 7); Child Health (Section 8); Breastfeeding, Nutrition, and Anaemia (Section 9); Adult Health and Health Care (Section 10); HIV/AIDS (Section 11); Sexual Behaviour (Section 12); Women’s Empowerment (Section 13); and Domestic Violence (Section 14).


  1. About 52 per cent of the households surveyed in Tamil Nadu were located in rural areas. As per the survey, almost 88 per cent of the households lived in a pucca house and 99 per cent had access to electricity.

  2. Around 94 per cent of all households had access to basic drinking water facilities and 83 per cent used clean fuel – electricity, liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas or biogas – for cooking.

  3. Around 82 per cent of the households in the state (81.6 per cent in urban areas and 61.6 per cent in rural areas) had basic sanitation facilities. As many as 22.5 per cent of households did not have any sanitation facility.

  4. Among children aged 2-4 years, a higher percentage of boys (34 per cent) attended preschool compared to girls (33 per cent). School attendance in Tamil Nadu was almost universal (96.9 per cent) in the 6-14 years age group but dropped to 74.3 per cent among children aged 15-17 years.

  5. The report states that 13 per cent of women aged between 20 and 24 years, married before attaining the legal age of 18 years. This is a fall from the 16 per cent recorded in NFHS-4. The total fertility rate in the state was recorded as 1.76 children per woman, a slight increase from the NFHS-4 estimate of 1.7 children per woman.

  6. The contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in Tamil Nadu among currently married women (aged 15-49 years) increased from 53.2 per cent in NFHS-4 to 68.6 per cent in NFHS-5.

  7. The infant mortality rate has been estimated to be around 19 deaths (before the age of one year) per 1,000 live births while the under-five mortality rate has been estimated at around 22 deaths (before the age of five years) per 1,000 live births. A sharp decline in infant and child mortality rates has been noted with increase in the mother’s education, the report notes.

  8. In the five years preceding the survey, 90 per cent of pregnancies ended in childbirth while the rest 10 per cent ended in foetal wastage (abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth). As per the report, 99.6 per cent of births in the same period took place in a health facility while 0.4 per cent of births took place at home.

  9. According to the survey, 89 per cent of children between the ages of 12 and 23 months had received all basic vaccinations against major diseases including tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio and measles.

  10. In Tamil Nadu, the number of children who were stunted (too short for their age) decreased from 27 per cent in NFHS-4 to 25 per cent in NFHS-5. The percentage of wasted (too thin for their height) children also fell from 20 per cent to 15 per cent during the same period. It was also recorded that 57 per cent of the children (aged 6-59 months) were anaemic.

  11. Anaemia was recorded as a major health problem in the state with 53.4 per cent of women and 15.2 per cent of men (aged 15-49 years) suffering from it.

  12. Approximately, 67 per cent of the households (61 per cent in the urban areas and 71 per cent in the rural areas) have any kind of health insurance or financing scheme that covers the needs of at least one member of the household.

  13. Almost all (98 per cent) women and men in Tamil Nadu have heard of HIV/AIDS. However, only about 24 per cent women and 27 per cent men have “comprehensive knowledge” of it.

  14. According to the NFHS-5 survey, 98.3 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 24 use hygienic methods of menstrual protection such as sanitary napkins, tampons or menstrual cups. This is an improvement from the NFHS-4 record of 91 per cent.

  15. In the 12 months preceding the survey, 83.5 per cent men and 42.8 per cent women (aged 15-49 years) were employed. Also, as per the findings, around 92 per cent of the women in Tamil Nadu had their own bank or savings accounts which they themselves used.

  16. In the state, around 42 per cent of women (aged 18-49 years) reported having experienced either physical or sexual violence and two per cent reported experiencing both. Of such women, only 12 percent sought help.

    Focus and Factoids by Anushka Mukherjee.


    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 for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai

Contributors:  S.K. Singh, Hemkhothang Lhungdim, Chander Shekhar, Fred Arnold, Laxmi Kant Dwivedi, Sarang Pedgaonkar, Y. Vaidehi and Shashi Kala Saroj


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


Dec, 2021