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There have been proposals for the use of the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) framework to ascertain the prevalence of COVID-19.

It has been suggested that the scientific and logistical infrastructure of India’s National Family Health Survey (NFHS) be leveraged to conduct a random sample-based population surveillance to track coronavirus.

Used earlier (NFHS for HIV surveillance)

India was projected to have 25 million HIV-positive individuals, with a 3-4% prevalence in adults, but when a random-sample-based population surveillance was conducted to test for HIV in the general population, the estimates sharply reduced to 2·5 million, with a 0.28% prevalence in adults.

Layering a COVID-19-focused data-collection effort on to the NFHS infrastructure would keep operational costs low, with the major expense being laboratory costs for testing samples.

Prevalence and testing

  • If a disease is widespread, meaning there is higher prevalence, its detection is easier, needing only a smaller sample.
  • Conversely, if it is rare, it is harder to find and a larger sample should be tested to detect that.
  • This sampling approach could be implemented at the State or district levels.
  • India and about 90 countries with established DHS sampling frames can implement this surveillance system.
  • The idea is that population-based testing is important for any decision making with some repeated cross-sectional testing of the same.

-Source: The Hindu

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