The Rajasthan government will launch free contraceptive injections for women in 14 districts from April 2017 under a central government programme called Mission Parivar Vikas, which aims to cover 145 districts in the country with high fertility rate.
The injection named Antara will be an alternative to the current birth control methods such as intra-utrerine contraceptive device (IUCD), oral contraceptive pills and condoms.
“Antara has Deoxy Medroxy Progestrone Acetate (DMPA), a drug that prevents pregnancy for three months,” said Naveen Jain, mission director, National Health Mission. “A woman can take four doses of the injection in a year without any other contraceptive,” he said.
“Antara can be injected in the arms or buttock muscles and prevents release of egg from the ovary,” Jain added.
Rajasthan’s reproductive and child health director Dr VK Mathur said Antara will be given free of cost in all government hospitals including district hospitals and health sub centres.
Mathur said the new contraceptive is quite safe. “The only side effect is irregular menstrual cycle and weight gain for a few months in some women,” he added.
The districts where the injections will be available are Barmer, Dholpur, Banswara, Karauli, Jalore, Sawai Madhopur, Udaipur, Dungarpur, Rajsamand, Jaisalmer, Pali, Sirohi, Baran and Bharatpur. The total fertility rate (TFR) in these districts is three or more.
TFR is the average number of children expected to be born per woman during her entire reproductive period.
Dr Swati Garg, head of obstetrics and gynaecology department of the private Mahatma Gandhi hospital in Jaipur said, “Injectable contraceptives are very effective and has been in the market for last 20 years. A woman has to take it in once and can avoid pregnancy for three months.”
She said menstrual cycle gets irregular due to this injection, but with proper counselling, women would accept it.
The union ministry of health and family welfare has identified 145 high focus districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam with high TFR under Mission Parivar Vikas.
“The main objective of ‘Mission Parivar Vikas’ is to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework,” the union health ministry had stated when the programmed was unveiled late last month.
The department will also offer another contraceptive pill named Chhaya that needs to be taken twice a week for three months and once a week thereafter.
Dr Mathur said family planning interventions too play a major role in reducing infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the state.