The Bihar government is distributing condoms and contraceptives to migrants when they are discharged after the mandatory 14 days of quarantine for COVID-19 .
The Bihar State Health Society (BSHS) has launched the campaign to promote family planning in the densely populated State.
“At the time of the migrants’ discharge from quarantine and isolation centres, the health workers not only give them tips on family planning but also provide packets of condoms, contraceptives and pregnancy kits to them,” said a BSHS official.
The distribution had already started in districts such as Gopalgunj, Jamui, Samastipur, Supaul, Saran, Rohtas and East Champaran, he said.
Besides, ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) healthcare workers and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) had also been asked to provide them to the returnees during their door-to-door screening survey.
“As lakhs of people have returned home due to COVID-19 lockdown, distribution of contraceptives among them is a good initiative for population control,” said Utpal Das, associated with the BSHS.
Gopalgunj civil surgeon T.N. Singh said, “The migrant workers are also being counselled on family planning by our health workers.” Over 20,000 packets had already been distributed in Gopalgunj district and the remaining 7,000 migrants too would get them, he said.
Samastipur civil surgeon Rati Raman Jha said, “There is a threat of population explosion here so our family welfare officers at block levels have started distributing condoms and contraceptives to them.”
Pledge for migrants
The migrants also have to take a pledge of “maintaining social distance and not to go outside home unless it is very important”.
But many migrants are taking a dig at the government’s initiative. “They couldn’t provide us proper food and clean toilets at the quarantine centres but are giving us condom packets as return gifts with a rider to maintain social distance…what more ridicule can the government heap on us,” a migrant from Basdila quarantine centre in Gopalgunj told The Hindu over phone.
“The government should distribute foodgrains and generate employment for us rather than condoms and contraceptives,” said his friend. Both the labourers had returned recently from Delhi.
The government has announced that all block-level quarantine centres will be shut from June 15 and those returning from Tuesday will not be quarantined.
State Public Relations department secretary Anupam Kumar on Monday said over eight lakh had returned to their home from the block-level quarantine centres and over 5.26 lakh were still housed at 11,581 centres.
Besides, the government was running 53 disaster relief camps where over 11,000 migrants were housed, he said.
Bihar has reported 24 deaths and 1,803 recoveries with 4,049 COVID-19 positive cases.