Family planning is a bone stuck in our governments throat. A recent survey conducted in 9 states showed that male sterialization remains the least preferred means of family planning. The survey was conducted in 284 districts in nine states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Assam, constituting 48 percent of India’s population.
The survey found that female sterilisation is the most preferred method of family planning while percentage of male sterilisation continues to remain negligible. The health secretary P.K. Pradhan stated that although a few men have come forward for the procedure, there is still a lot to be done in order to make family planning a reality. The survey also found stark differences within states on parameters like total fertility rate, current usage of family planning, mean age at marriage, delivery care and immunisation. More than half of currently married woman aged 15-49 years are not using any method of family planning in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar. As many as 98 districts have reported less than 50 percent current usage of any method of family planning. Only 12 districts of 284 surveyed districts feature in 70 percent and above category.
The survey found that in 164 districts, a woman bears more than three children on an average with the highest (six) born to a woman in Shrawasti (Uttar Pradesh) and lowest (two) in Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand. The survey found that marriages among females taking place below legal age (18 years) are rampant in rural areas as compared to urban areas. “In rural areas every fourth marriage in Rajasthan, every fifth in Bihar and Jharkhand takes place below the legal age. It has been noted that higher proportion of males are getting married below legal age (21 years) as compared to females in these states.