There should be a contraceptive pill for men to ensure gender parity in family control measures, a parliamentary panel has told the government.
The committee on empowerment of women has asked the Centre to take up research on male contraceptive pill on priority basis under the Family Planning Division. Participation of men in family planning has been found to be very less. The committee, headed by Krishna Tirath, tabled the report in Parliament on Tuesday.
The recommendation is a fall-out of the government’s data indicating that most family planning programmes are women-centric. “From the data available before them, the committee found that over a period of time the entire contraception programme of the government has become women-centric and male sterilization has been put on the back burner,” the committee said.
The health ministry informed the committee that of the permanent contraception, a whopping 97.5 per cent was tubectomies, a popular method of female sterilization. The figures would tell you the lopsidedness of the family planning programmes with over 44 lakh women undergoing tubectomies in 2006-07 as against just 1.14 lakh men opting for vasectomy.
The panel blamed the government for the situation, as in most of the contraception drives, men are not targeted.
The committee also felt that one of the easiest method of male contraception, non-scalpel vasectomy, was not being preferred because of myths and misconceptions associated with it. “Because of this our male dominated society increasingly puts pressure on women to take care of birth control on their own,” the report said.
In the wake of these findings, the committee has asked the government to give incentives to men to opt for male sterilization. And, one method suggested was providing insurance cover to men who opt for vasectomy. The committee has also asked the government to strengthen communication support to such initiatives through mass media campaigns to remove fears regarding vasectomy among men.
Even today, contraception methods adopted by women account for over 84 per cent of total birth control measures, including contraceptive pills. For men, condom usage remains as low as eight per cent whereas more and more men are opting of the risky method of withdrawal.
The health ministry has informed the committee that Hindustan Latex Limited, a public sector company, has developed a new easy to use kit to detect pregnancy at an early stage. The kit would be distributed to women under different government programmes soon, the ministry said.
To control maternal mortality, the committee has recommended that the state governments should conduct maternal audits, a detailed maternal death inquiry system.