A whopping 38% had already given birth in the age group of 15-19 years, while around 16% in the same age group were pregnant in the M east ward comprising areas of Chembur, Govandi, Mankhurd and Trombay, according survey of 20,000 households in M east ward conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
Touted as the poorest ward in the limits of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation with the Human Development Index (0.2), M east is home to huge population of malnourished children apart from a high maternal and infant mortality rate.
“Early child bearing is the cause for infant and maternal mortality as pregnancies in these age group are risky for both mother and child. The survey showed that most families were complete till the woman turned 35,” said Vaidehi Y, program manager adding that though the mean age of marriage for girls found in the survey is 18 years, in some areas of the ward we observed that it was even lower something which is not permitted by law.
The survey was conducted as a part of the project ‘Transforming M east ward’ initiated by TISS last year to assess health, educational facilities in the area. The survey was conducted in two phases- December 2011 and February-April 2012.
Health experts said women are the most vulnerable with early marriage, multiple pregnancies resulting in high maternal and infant mortality rate.
The survey showed that the average family size was five people and the average number of children born was 3.5.
The use of contraceptive methods in the population was only 29%. The usage of contraceptive methods such as condoms, family planning operation for women was about 25% in the age group of 15 to 29 years.
The paucity and shortage of doctors in public hospital force people to opt for expensive private health facilities. A month before the survey was conducted at least 5,000 people took ill to various illness such as fever, cold diarrhoea.
“Most of the private clinic here are run by quacks. And the government and civic hospitals are far away,” said Leena Joshi, project director, M ward.
The survey found the parents spent Rs. 1,000 on an average on education. “As the municipal schools are only till class VII, most students drop out,” said S Parasuraman, director, TISS.