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A review of national health surveys in India

Several rounds of national health surveys have generated a vast amount of data in India since 1992. We describe and compare the key health information gathered, assess the availability of health data in the public domain, and review publications resulting from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the District Level Household Survey (DLHS) and the Annual Health Survey (AHS). We highlight issues that need attention to improve the usefulness of the surveys in monitoring changing trends in India’s disease burden: (i) inadequate coverage of noncommunicable diseases, injuries and some major communicable diseases; (ii) modest comparability between surveys on the key themes of child and maternal mortality and immunization to understand trends over time; (iii) short time intervals between the most recent survey rounds; and (iv) delays in making individual-level data available for analysis in the public domain.

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