The Ration Unit and Fair Price Shops in Bundi District of Rajasthan have been given instructions by the State Health Department to meet the target of at least two sterilizations before 30th March. There is also an incentive attached. The dealer s with the maximum cases will be certified and rewarded. Targets are distributed further to the fair price dealers because the health department workers could not meet their family planning targets, which focus heavily on sterilization….. (Source: local newspaper, Rajasthan Patrika, 22.03.2013).
In a family planning camp held in a Community Health Centre (CHC) in Raipur Block of Pali district of Rajasthan on 22.03.2013, though the district collector announced various prizes including motorcycles, Colour TVs and home appliances to be distributed to ‘lottery winners’ among couples who opted for permanent sterilization as well as targets of village health providers to motivate women for sterilization; this camp did not see much of a turnover. The service providers shared that this could be because of Holi (a festival of colours in India) and during Holi people in the villages were busy.
Women present in the camp at Raipur were going under the knife without fully understanding the risks, precautions, consequences and their rights as claimants in case of failures, as nothing was explained o them or read out to them from the consent forms on which they gave their thumb impressions.
There are national guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that have a detailed description of the contents of medical history, Personal characteristics and reproductive history, menstrual history, obstetrics history, contraceptive history that is to be recorded in detail before female sterilization is done, however, this has not yet been built into the MIS system of the facilities. The only records that were maintained were the social-demographic profile and the consent form of the acceptors.
Follow up instructions, discharge cards, monitory incentive to sterilization acceptors were not given to the women before they left the facility. The families of women arranged their own transport to get back homes after the camp concluded at 3:00 pm on 22.03.2013.
Family planning should be regarded as a matter of choice and rights by both the service providers and the community. But this is not at all the case of what is being recorded and reported. While the National Population Policy has seen no place for targets, rural women continue to be seen as family planning targets and family planning camps as best models to meet these targets. This approach is problematic as there is no equal precedence given to post operative care and follow-up.
The government must audit and ensure strict compliance to the quality assurance mechanisms that have been established. There is an urgent need to understand both population issues and health service delivery within in the perspective of ‘women’s rights’ and justice, by the service providers.