One-stop birth control cell in Assam

Guwahati, July 5 : Hushed closed-door questions on contraception and ham-handed fertility advice from know-it-all relatives will soon cease to be the most widely used birth control counselling methods in Assam.

Beginning July, every primary health centre, district hospital, besides the three medical colleges, will be equipped with dedicated single-window family planning facility that will include infrastructure for no-scalpel vasectomy and tubectomy.

The scheme, which will be aptly launched on July 11 on World Population Day, will provide every district in the state with an amount of Rs 5 lakh initially to create facilities and infrastructure at health centres and hospitals to help couples avail of all kinds of birth control procedures.

“At present, the health centres and district hospitals do not provide all kinds of family planning facilities. For example, no-scalpel vasectomy and tubectomy surgery are not available together at all hospitals. Many of the health centres do not even have contraceptive pills. Such situations have made it difficult for couples, particularly those from rural and remote areas, to avail of birth control procedures according to their wish and preference,” the state trainer-cum-state nodal officer for male and female sterilisation programmes, Ilias Ali, told The Telegraph.

Ali said the single-window family planning facility is a new concept and been implemented in very few states, including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, to curb massive population growth.

He said the Union ministry of health and family welfare, too, selected Assam for the scheme considering its high growth of population for the year 2010-11.

All primary health centres and district hospitals would be equipped with facilities and manpower to conduct no-scalpel vasectomy, tubectomy and other surgical procedures.

The hospitals will have health counsellors to educate people on the benefits of family planning.

They will also offer advice and suggestions to couples as ways to adopt birth control procedures according to their conveniences and circumstances.

The gynaecology departments at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Assam Medical College and Hospital, Dibrugarh and Silchar Medical College and Hospital will now have separate cells to provide facilities and counselling on birth control measures.

“Such arrangements will enable couples to clear their doubts, misgivings and queries about effects of birth control and take a final decision once they visit the health centres or hospitals without any hassle. Most of the couples, whether in urban and rural areas do not want to run from one hospital to another, in the matter of family planning,” Ali said.

He said more and more men and women were joining family planning programmes in Assam.

The state has set a target of 1-lakh women and 25,000 men for sterilisation procedures for the current year.

From July 12, the health department will conduct a series awareness programmes, street plays and public meetings across the state on the dangers of population explosion and educate them on the new scheme.