Most mothers in the block prefer three or more babies

The remote Kottampatti block in Madurai district has come under official scrutiny as nearly 18 per cent of eligible mothers in this block reportedly prefer to have more than two children, thus deviating from the family planning norm. Kottampatti is an area of concern for officials because three children or more has become the trend for families here, putting it among the 21 blocks identified as falling under the Higher Order of Birth (HOB) category. Health Department sources told The Hindu on Friday that a report on birth statistics pertaining to the district has shown that Kottampatti block has missed the message of the birth control campaign with ‘eligible couples’ resisting family planning methods.

After analysing the HOB data, the officials found that 331 mothers have three or more children and are not ready to consider adopting family planning procedures.

Taking note of this, the Department of Family Welfare has recently sanctioned Rs.1.8 lakh to the district health officials here for conducting awareness camps exclusive to Kottampatti block. Families will be sensitised about family planning, permanent sterilisation and the need to follow the two-children norm. When contacted, S. M. Ravi, Deputy Director of Medical and Rural Health Services and Family Welfare, said that specific areas falling under the HOB category will be identified and camps would be conducted.

For each camp, Rs.15,000 has been allotted for this purpose. During 2011, a total of 1,846 deliveries took place in Kottampatti block of which 331 deliveries involved a third child. Efforts will be taken to motivate men and women in this block towards birth control, Dr. Ravi said and added that the trend could be changed through right intervention. The local Primary Health Centre and medical teams at Karungalagudi will be involved in the exercise.

Social issues

Meanwhile, S. Elango, former Director of Public Health, Government of Tamil Nadu, has said that HOB needs to be brought down quickly as it poses several social challenges in rural areas.

“There are issues like malnutrition and child labour. The Family Welfare Department will have to work out a strategy for effective results. In some families, the child may not be cared for at all due to the precarious financial condition of the parents,” he cautioned.