Despite high maternal mortality, India records drop in fertility

Family planning programmes on the right track, feels Health Ministry

February 08, 2015 03:20 am | Updated November 28, 2021 09:06 pm IST - NEW DELHI

India, which is unlikely to achieve the fifth Millennium Development Goals (MDG-5) of reducing maternal mortality to 109 per 1,00,000 live births by 2015, is however, confident of meeting the target for lowering the total fertility rate (TFR) by the end of the 12th Plan.

A reduction in the TFR rates in nine of the 11 high-focus States has given Health Ministry officials reason to believe that the family planning programmes are on the right track and that the unmet need for contraception is also declining.

Maternal mortality

“The goal for maternal mortality rate may or may not be achieved by December 31, 2015, even though India has shown a reasonable decline in the numbers, but as far as TFR goes, we are on track to achieve the targets set for the 12th Five Year Plan which ends in 2017,” a senior official of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry said.

India hopes to bring down the TFR to 2.1 by the end of 2017 with nine of the 11 high-focus States registering a decline of 0.05 per cent. As per the data collected by the Ministry, 24 States and Union Territories have already achieved the replacement fertility level of 2.1 or less.

Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Mizoram and Punjab already have a TFR of less than 2.0; only Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have a higher TFR of 3.1 and 3.3 respectively.

“It will take about four years for the TFR to go down to 2.1, which is already around 2.3, there is a momentum towards reduction and we are hopeful of meeting the targets. There has been a 0.2 per cent reduction in TFR in the high-focus State of Uttar Pradesh alone, which is very encouraging,” the official said.

The Ministry is also focussing on meeting the unmet contraception needs; unmet contraception in India is about 21.3 per cent as per the District Level Household and Facility Survey- 3(DLHS 3).

India has committed to spend $2 billion to provide family planning services to 48 million additional women and sustain the current coverage of over 100 million users till 2020.

“While we are concerned about reducing the TFR, there is more stress on fixing the gaps in contraception — there are States like Bihar that have an unmet contraception need of 33.5 per cent, Meghalaya has 32.7 per cent and Nagaland 33.8 per cent. We need to expand the bouquet of choice there and allow women more control over the reproductive rights. In the long run, this helps bring down MMR and infant mortality rates as well,” the official said.

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