One-third adolescent girls under-nourished: Survey

New Delhi: Giving a bleak outlook on women`s health, a government survey has found that at least one-third of adolescent girls in India are under-nourished while 56.2 percent women in the reproductive age group are anemic.

The number of adolescent girls (in the age group of 11-18 years), constituting 17 per cent of the total female population, is 8.3 crore, according to the National Family Health Survey.

The female literacy rate is only 53.87 percent. Thus, they have considerable "unmet needs" in terms of education, health and nutrition, it said.

Women and Child Development Ministry officials attribute this to the lack of targeted health services for adolescents and widespread gender discrimination which limits their access to health services.

The practice of early marriage and child-bearing puts adolescent girls and their children at increased risk of adverse outcomes, they said.

Providing a still bleaker outlook on the women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the NFHS said neo-natal mortality rate for the first five-year period preceding the survey for SCs is 46.3 per 1,000 while for the general populace is 39 per 1,000.

Infant mortality rate for the first five-year period preceding the survey for SC/STs is 66.4 while for the rest it is 57.

For the same time period, other health parameters like the under-five mortality rate for SC/STs is 88.1 per 1,000 and 74.3 for the general populace.

The percentage of married women with anemia is 58.3 for SC/STs as against 56.2 percent.

While among the general population, 11.5 percent women are graduates, among SC/STs the corresponding figure is 3.9 percent, the survey said.

According to Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, her ministry had taken a number of initiatives to enhance the status of the girl child through various schemes at the national and state level, the recent one being Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, named `SABLA`.