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Sahiya share in family planning pie

The state government’s hum do, humare do campaign got a shot in the arm on Wednesday with incentives being introduced for sahiyas or health workers for convincing rural couples to embrace birth control measures.

At present, only those who undergo vasectomy (male) and tubectomy (female) get monetary incentives from the state government. It’s the first time that sahiyas, who closely work with people at the grassroots level, have been covered under the scheme as part of the government’s family planning drive to encourage them to work harder and convince more couples to go through the surgeries.

Announcing the new initiative at the launch of the family planning campaign at Doranda dispensary, Ranchi, on the occasion of World Population Day, health director Praveen Chandra said the Centre had approved the incentive plan for sahiyas and the scheme would come into effect from Wednesday itself. Assembly Speaker C.P. Singh inaugurated the drive, which will be on from July 11 to 25.

Under the scheme, Rs 500 will be given to a sahiya if she convinces a newly-wed couple to have their first child after two years of marriage and another sum of Rs 500 if the second birth takes place after a gap of three years. A final payment of Rs 1,000 will be given if the couple, after having two children, opts for family planning measures by way of vasectomy or tubectomy.

“Sahiyas are one of the core workforces who interact with people at the ground level on a daily basis. Giving incentives will encourage them to work in a better way to motivate, educate and convince rural folks to adopt family planning measures,” said Chandra, adding that other forms of external interventions like creating awareness, safe sex practices et al would take place simultaneously.

A multi-load IUD (375), inter-uterine contraception technique was also introduced on Wednesday. “It will take care of unwanted pregnancy for five years and is supplied by the Centre,” said an official.

The move assumes importance in view of the fact that Jharkhand is among the top seven states that is contributing to population explosion. According to the 2011 census, India has 1.21 billion population, which makes it only second to China in the world.

The country’s total fertility rate (TFR) is 2.6 per cent as national average but Jharkhand is way above this mark with TRF above 3. Studies suggest that states like Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Meghalaya will account for 50 per cent increase in the country’s population by 2030.

Speaker Singh acknowledged the initiatives, but pointed out that the state could only succeed with an honest approach. “For example, I have come across many cases where incentives never reached the couples. In remote areas, there isn’t any medical intervention. The government should take people into confidence before mooting any popular scheme,” Singh said.

A.B. Siddique, the new state National Rural Health Mission director, said family planning camps kicked off across the state from Wednesday. “Although we hold such camps throughout the year, this is a sort of special drive. Besides clinical approach, social approach through education and awareness is also required for population stabilisation,” he said.