BENGALURU: Accuracy of details pertaining to health and disease burden in Karnataka may have been compromised in the previous National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 (2015-16), giving a wrong picture to the state government for formulating health policies.Former researchers working with the surveyor said there were several anomalies in the process, including lack of effective communication due to language difference between field investigators and trainers. While the trainers spoke English, all the field investigators were all from Kannada medium.
The allegations were made by former researchers who worked with the NFHS-4 surveyor firm. The firm was handed the contract by the health ministry after Mumbai-based International Institute of Population Sciences floated tenders. This is the agency responsible for conducting NFHS, which provides information such as nutrition, infant mortality and family planning.
With the IIPS floating tenders to recruit field agencies to undertake NFHS-5 (2018-19), the researchers and field investigators involved with the previous survey have pointed out the inaccurate details being arrived at due to anomalies in training and procedures followed by the surveyor. The contract to conduct the survey in Karnataka was won by Vimarsh Development Solutions Pvt Ltd, which used 110 field investigators in the state.
Dr Sylvia Karpagam, former health coordinator on the core expert team of Vimarsh, and who resigned after an eight-month stint with the company in January 2015, said, “They conducted training in English when all of the field investigators spoke Kannada. They conducted a test in English in which 70 per cent of the field investigators failed... How can policies be generated on the basis of poor quality data collected by poorly trained, overworked, underpaid investigators?”
Karpagam said the Gurugram-based company Vimarsh had no experience of conducting public health surveys. However, Udit Bhandari, director, Vimarsh, said, “I refute all these allegations. My client IIPS was happy with the work done. Dr Sylvia is the only social activist who has raised such allegations because she wants some money from the company.”