India – ‘Increase in number of still births matter of grave concern’


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The increase in the number of ‘still births’ in institutional deliveries and non-availability of data regarding the sex of still-born child was a matter of grave concern, a member of the national task force for ‘Beti Bachao and Beti Padao’ scheme said here today.

Subhash Mendhapurkar, member of the task force and Director of Solan-based NGO Social Uplift Through Rural Action, said that the matter was of concern because there are number of methods of getting rid of unwanted child without abortion.

“In Una district of Himachal, notorious for very low female sex ratio, 72 still births were recorded in the institutional deliveries in 2014 and in most of the cases, the child was in good health during three check-ups before the delivery, which is not normal,” he said during a consultation workshop on PCPNDT Act organised by SUTRA.

“Now there are methods by which you can go in a normalised way of delivery with still birth if you don’t want to have a baby but we don’t have the data about sex ratio of these still births,” he said.

In case the data about the sex of stillborn children was available, it can be gauged how many female children could not take birth and the claims about strict implementation of PCPNDT Act can be verified, Mendhapurkar said.

Speaking on current structure and status of statutory mechanisms under PCPNDT (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act), he stressed the need for involvement of civil society in the implementation of the act in the state and observed that the state agencies need to be more vigilant in border areas where people were going to other states for ultrasound test and opt for selective abortions on the basis of sex.

The department must talk about the action taken after the inspections are done in the field, he said.

He also referred to the issue of sharp decline in registration of births in panchayats with increase in institutional deliveries as the births are recorded in the hospitals only.

Dr NS Bisht, Head of Population Research Centre, Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) shared that 41.5 per cent children die before the age of 5, while the Infant Mortality rate was 30 per cent in the state.

As per National Family Health survey, 6.3 per cent males and 49.01 per cent females undergo sterilisation in Himachal Pradesh.

“The per cent age of males undergoing sterilisation is very low due to lack of awareness, but compared with other states, it is still on the higher side,” he said.

Director, Health Safety and Regulation, Rameshwar Sharma, who presided over the consultation meeting, said there was a need for integrated approach for effective results in the implementation of PCPNDT Act.

Dr Surekha Chopra, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Health Safety and Regulation who detailed about the action taken under the PCPNDT Act informed that Una and Kinnaur districts are being considered for the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ scheme.

“The focus is on Una for the alarmingly low sex ratio in some pockets but Kinnaur is also being considered as it has shown a maximum decline in the sex ratio (16 per cent) as per 2011 census,” she said.

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