Men in Madurai have shown exceptional zeal in undergoing family planning procedures, taking the district to the second position in the State during 2012-13.
However, the number of men opting for vasectomy, the surgical procedure for male sterilisation, is significantly lower than the ratio for women adopting the equivalent procedure.
Data available with the Department of Family Welfare indicate that from April 2012 to February this year, 82 vasectomies were performed in the district at camps conducted by the Health Department and by approved voluntary organisations such as the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI).
During the same period, 12,593 women in the district had tubectomy, which is the family planning sterilisation procedure for women.
While Madurai district, with 76 vasectomies, stood fourth in Tamil Nadu during 2011-12, this year it has jumped to the number two spot, after Chennai. A total of 287 vasectomies were carried out in the metro.
But the male-female ratio is hugely disproportionate. While 2,89,767 family planning operations (men and women combined) were performed in 2012-13 in all 32 districts in the State, the trend of male sterilisation is abysmally low with only 1,270 vasectomies, of which Madurai district contributed 82.
“No-Scalpel Vasectomy is a simple procedure which takes just 15 minutes. Unofficially, the target is to see that 10 per cent of the total family planning operations are vasectomies. But we are nowhere near that,” S.M. Ravi, Deputy Director of Family Welfare, Madurai district, told The Hindu on Wednesday.
Numbers indicate that the vasectomy percentage was only 0.4 per cent in the family planning numbers of the State.
Dr. Ravi said that the numbers in Madurai district could have been lower but for the active role of FPAI which conducted a major vasectomy camp at its Ellis Nagar branch here on January 28. In that single camp, 28 vasectomies were performed thanks to motivation by volunteers, village health nurses and doctors.
Of the 82 vasectomies performed in 2012-13 in the district, 67 were possible due to FPAI which, in a single camp, motivated 28 men to undergo family planning surgery.
According to S. Prathiban, Branch Manager, FPAI, people still have apprehensions about undergoing vasectomy. “The government is giving a higher cash incentive of Rs.1,100 to men and FPAI gives Rs.200. Men should shed their inhibitions and come forward in the interest of women’s health. Nothing will happen,” he said.
Dr. Ravi is worried that in many cases the men are volunteering for vasectomy only if their wives are medically, unfit or anaemic, to undergo family planning procedure. And, in many families, the women are not inclined towards their husband going for family planning surgery.
“Women need a couple of days rest whereas for men it is just a daytime surgery lasting only a few minutes. We are planning to conduct special camps across the district during 2013-14 also,” he said.
Those who had undergone vasectomy surgery in recent months are happy about it. Raghunathan (43) of Solai Alagupuram near Jaihindpuram, who is a delivery agent for a medical company, said, ““It took just 30 minutes for the surgery and the same day I reported for work. Doctors advised me not to drive a two-wheeler for two days, but, apart from that, there was no problem. My wife and the FPAI encouraged me to go for family planning,” Mr. Raghunathan, who had a baby girl six months ago, says. He makes it clear he did not go in for the procedure because of the cash incentive. By the end of March, a few more vasectomies will be added to the list in Madurai district and already six more were done in a FPAI camp on March 26 taking the district total from 82 in February to 88 as of March 27. The final annual statistics for 2-12-13 will be released and reviewed in the first week of April, officials said.