Bihar health minister for mass campaign to control population
Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey on Wednesday advocated for a mass campaign with public support to control population boom in the state, that had shown a decadal growth rate of 25.1% in the last census (2011).
Pandey steered clear of courting any controversy as he parried a question on the need for legislation to control population, as Uttar Pradesh has recently done, while talking to media persons on the sidelines of an event to mark World Population Day (July 11) here on Wednesday.
Toeing the line of chief minister (CM) Nitish Kumar, Pandey said education played an important role in controlling population. He said intermediate-pass girls in the state have a total fertility rate (TFR) of 1.7% against the national average of 1.8%. Similarly, girls who graduated college have a TFR of 1.6% against the national average of 1.7%.
He said the CM had minutely examined this fact and already announced opening of at least one high school in every panchayat as well as monetary incentive for girls to study.
“Unwed intermediate-pass girls are eligible for a monetary incentive of ₹25,000, while those girls who have complete their graduation get ₹50,000 under Mukhya Mantri Kanya Utthan Yojana,” he added.
Pandey said it was due to social mobilisation campaign and mass awareness drive that for the first time this year, the state’s decadal population growth was projected be around 22% - 23%, almost identical to what it was in 1971 (22%).
He said the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 had shown some positive indicators for the state, as its TFR had decreased to 3.0% from 3.4% in their last survey.
He, however, stressed the need to increase use of modern spacing methods among married girls and women between 15 and 24 years of age to improve use of modern contraceptive among nulliparous and low parity couples to delay or space the birth of children, as the median age of women in the state, who begin using contraceptives, was still 25 years.
He also cautioned against malnutrition and said there was need to focus on nutrition if maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate were to be brought down.
Earlier, Manoj Kumar executive director, State Health Society, Bihar, spoke about the state’s improvement in the two NFHS surveys. He said the unmet demand had gone down from 21.2% in 2015 to 13% while the modern contraceptive prevalence (mCPR) among married women of reproductive age (MWRA) increased in Bihar from 23.3 in NFHS-4 to 44.4 in NFHS-5.
Flagging an area of concern, Kumar said that over 40% of girls, who are less than 18 years of age, are still getting married and getting pregnant between 15 and 19 years of age.
Sunil Babu, Care India chief of party – Bihar Technical Support Project – and deputy team lead-family planning Dr Padma Buggineni, threw light on the challenges in controlling population.