New Delhi: The government's fourth series of National Family Health Survey is currently underway and is expected to be released later this year, National Statistical Commission Chairman Pronab Sen said Wednesday.
At present, there is "too little nutrition data" for policy makers and the new National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data would be crucial for rolling out new policy programmes to address malnutrition and other health issues, he said.
"NFHS is on and officials are in fields at the moment. It hould come out later this year," Sen said on the sidelines of a round-table event on nutrition data.
Asked if nutrition data of various domestic and global organisations have been giving correct picture of the situation in India, he said, "There is too little data and is not adequate for policy makers."
The NFHS-4, conducted under the stewardship of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, is being carried out in 29 states apart from six Union territories covering 5,68,200 households in the country, up from about 1,09,000 households in the last survey done in 2005-6.
The survey gives details of health statistics in the country and is the only source for malnutrition data (extent of those stunted and underweight in the population).
Earlier speaking on nutrition data, Sen said that the data on movement of food beyond mandis apart from the data on production and prices of food items is necessary to understand the level of nutrition in the country.
"Presently, there are data constraints as we are able to track food production at location-wise and to some extent are able to track food prices but it is extremely difficult to track movement of food beyond mandis," he said, adding that the way forward is setting up of a Nutrition Monitoring Central System.
Ecoing views, global think-tank International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Senior Research Fellow Purnima Menon said that the existing surveys including NFHS, District-level Household Survey, Annual Health Survey, India Household Development Index among others present "illustrative and not comprehensive" picture of nutrition level.
The data is five-year old and information is not available for most indicators, she said.
Highlighting data gaps, the 2014 Global Nutrition Report -- that tracks worldwide progress for 193 UN countries in improving nutrition status -- said, "Access to right data at the right time in the right place is necessary to improve accountability, but not sufficient."
"We have found that few studies have been done on how lack of data is contraining nutrition action and we will undertake a more detailed review in a future report," it said.
For example, 40 per cent of the 193 member countries cannot track more than two of the four World Health Assembly (WHA) indicators including in this report, it added.