Government worried about teen pregnancies

Union Health Ministry says men’s participation will be encouraged in family planning programme

July 28, 2022 07:23 pm | Updated July 29, 2022 11:40 am IST - NEW DELHI

Over 44% of the districts in India reported high percentage of women marrying before they reach the age of 18. Photo for representation.

Over 44% of the districts in India reported high percentage of women marrying before they reach the age of 18. Photo for representation. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

High teenage fertility in some areas remains a cause of concern in India even as the fertility rate has stabilised across the country, the Health Ministry said in its Family Planning Vision-2030 document released earlier this week.

It added that participation of men will be encouraged in the family planning programme and that lack of access to contraceptives had been identified as a priority challenge area.

“While multiple factors have been identified that explain low contraceptive use among married adolescents and young women, two most important factors are child marriage and teenage pregnancy. Over 118 districts reported high percentage of teenage pregnancies and are mostly concentrated in Bihar (19), West Bengal (15), Assam (13), Maharashtra (13), Jharkhand (10), Andhra Pradesh (7), and Tripura (4),’’ said the document.

Additionally, over 44% of the districts in India reported high percentage of women marrying before they reach the age of 18. These districts were in the States of Bihar (17), West Bengal (8), Jharkhand (7), Assam (4), two each in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Coincidentally, these districts also experience low rates of modern contraceptive use.

Second largest country

India is the second largest country in the world. The country’s population is expected to continue to grow until mid-century (due to population momentum), however, the population growth will decline substantially, said the document. India’s population has reached 136.3 crore (1.36 billion) and is expected to reach 147.9 crore (1.47 billion) by 2031 and further 152.2 crore (1.52 billion) by 2036, it added.

Also the adolescent population will reach 22.9 crore (229 million) by 2031 and further 22 crore (220 million) by 2036.

“The youth population in the age-group of 15-24 increased from 23.3 crore (233 million) in 2011 to 25.2 crore (252 million) in 2021 and will now decline to reach at 23.4 crore (234 million) in 2031 and further reach 22.9 crore (229 million) in 2036,’’ said the document.

The government said male contraceptive methods were largely limited to condoms. Male sterilisation was at 0.3%. Overall male participation was also determined by perception towards women’s contraceptive use. “The vision also included a plan to use the private sector for providing modern contraceptives. Private sector contributes 45% share of pills and 40% share of condoms. For other reversible contraceptives like injectables, the share is 30% and 24% for IUCD,” said the report, adding that sterilisation was mostly done by the government sector, the report said.

A priority area

Meanwhile, the document notes that although there has been a steady decline in teenage childbearing, from 7.9% in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) to 6.8% (in the NFHS-5) it remains a priority area that requires to be addressed, especially since India will continue to have one of the youngest populations in the world until 2030.

It added that modern contraceptive use among married adolescents and young women, although increasing over time, has been rather low.

As per the document in the NFHS-4, only 7% married adolescents and 26% young women were using modern methods of contraception, which increased to 19% and 32% respectively in NFHS-5. Both married adolescent girls and young women reported high unmet need for contraception. In the NFHS-4, 27% adolescents and 21% young women reported unmet need for contraception, which declined to 18% and 17% respectively in the NFHS-5.

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