Civil Society engagement is high on the agenda in the 12th Plan: Planning Commission

 

Lucknow, August 18: We need vibrant efforts by the civil society to supplement the work of the government on family planning to lead to population stabilization. And the Planning Commission of India is seriously considering promoting civil society engagement in the developmental activities under 12th Plan, Dr Syeda Hameed, Member Planning Commission, said while inaugurating the two-day North Central Regional Conference on Health, Population and Social Development, organized by the Population Foundation of India (PFI) in New Delhi today.

 

Quality of care, an important determinant for family planning and Reproductive Child Health (RCH), unfortunately is still very poor in many states of India, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh, she said.

 

Dr Syeda Hameed, who looks after women and children, health, voluntary action cell and micro and small enterprises in the Planning Commission, said there were a number of civil society innovations in the country, which we should adopt and scale up, instead of focusing on different projects for the same issues. She emphasized that without the support of the civil society organizations, India would not be able to achieve its development goals.

 

Under the 12th plan, the emphasis is on flexibility of schemes to address the diverse needs of different states within a programme. The commission would like to partner with the civil society organizations, she said. Development should be like fireflies rising, not like buffalos wallowing in the mud, she added.

 

Chairing the inaugural session, Mr Hari Shankar Singhania, chairperson of the PFI Governing Board, said PFI has taken up quality of care as an important advocacy issue. The issue is also on the agenda for the conference, and would be discussed among government functionaries and civil society groups of the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttrakhand. The recommendations that emerge would be taken up with the Central government during the national conference in Delhi in November this year.

 

Dr Sulabha Parsuraman, Professor & Head, Department of Population Policies and Programmes, IIPS, Mumbai, in the key note address, emphasized that social development does not necessarily determine fertility rates as is evident from the experience in Andhra Pradesh. AP has achieved low fertility rates but its indicators of literacy and women’s empowerment are as poor as of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh. However, it has a high percentage of institutional deliveries, mass media exposure and low unmet contraceptive needs, which tell us that programmes if implemented properly make a significant difference in addressing population issues. So, low levels of social and economic development are not an excuse.

 

In the ensuing discussions, speakers dwelt on the substantial differences among the four states of the North-Central Region in the achievement of basic demographic indices. All the four states -- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand are yet to achieve replacement level of fertility at Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 2.1. Uttar Pradesh has the highest TFR at 3.8, followed by Madhya Pradesh at 3.3. The age specific fertility rate in all these four states remains higher in the age group of 20-24 years.  

 

The current use of family planning methods or the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR)  is lowest in Uttar Pradesh at 43.6 per cent while the unmet need for contraception is the highest in Uttar Pradesh at 21.2 per cent, followed by Madhya Pradesh at 11.3 per cent, Uttarakhand at 10.8 per cent and Chhattisgarh at 10.1 per cent.  In order to achieve replacement level fertility, the unmet need for contraception in all these four states needs to be met.  

 

Various studies show that there is a clear link between child survival and fertility decline. Madhya Pradesh has the highest Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of 70. IMR in UP is 67 and in Chhattisgarh it is 57, which are higher than the national figure of 53. Uttarakhand's IMR is 44, lower than the national figure.  

 

The pace of demographic transition has not been uniform in these four states. In fact, there exist wide regional differences in demographic parameters within each state too. Hence, the importance lies in area-specific strategies towards achieving population stabilization. 

 

Among others who participated in the discussions were Mr A R Nanda, Executive Director of PFI and former Secretary, GOI, Mr Ranjit Roy Choudhary, Ms Poonam Muttreja, Dr Manju Mehrotra, General Manager, FP, NRHM, Government of Uttar Pradesh, Dr Asha Mathur, Additional Director, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Uttrakhand, Dr Manohar Agnani, Mission Director, NRHM, government of  Madhya Pradesh, Dr Subhash Pandey, State Nodal Officer, Immunization, FP and RCH, Government of Chhattisgarh,  Dr Yoshdhara Dasgupta of Sahayog, UP, Dr Dayanand Tondon of CREATE, UP,and representatives from corporate houses like TCSRD, Jindal Power and Steel Ltd and Ranbaxy. 

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