New Delhi: India needs to move away from its “targeted approach” towards family panning programmes that have been in existence under a decade-old policy, experts said here Tuesday as they pitched for greater role for women to curb the menace of rising population.
The country will be represented by top health ministry officials on the issue at the family planning summit in London on World Population Day Wednesday.
“It is time India took a strong stand on the role of women empowerment in our family planning policies. We cannot expect the women to grow in presence of coercive and targeted approach on population control,” said A.R Nanda, former secretary, department of family welfare.
“It will be crucial to see what India’s statement will be at the summit. We can’t afford to go ahead without tracking the community’s needs for a healthcare need like population control,” Nanda added.
The National Population Policy, 2000, was designed to address the needs for contraception and implementation of intersectoral operational strategies to achieve a stable population by 2045.
“If the government thinks it can curb population growth by giving a target to states, then it is only going to increase the vulnerability of women in this process. Women have to be at the centre of benefiting from policies rather,” Nanda explained.
Members and groups of civil society conducted a nationwide series of consultations to prepare a set of recommendations ahead of the global summit which will be attended by union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
It was widely emphasise that the country needs to take stock of its population policy approach that still considers population as a burden. After openly coercive birth control measures in the 1970s, india has been heavily relying on contraceptives and sterilisation other than condoms and other methods.
“The problem with our policies is that service providers do not provide enough information about quality and safety of products. Family planning cannot be a supply driven programme where you aim to simply curb numbers,”said Abhijit Das, director of centre for health and social justice.
“For us who have a major population in reproductive age group, we are lacking a significant focus that needs to be on adolescent health and sex education,” Das pointed at a discussion.
Experts from civil society organisations such as family planning association of India, population foundation of India, and the hunger project also participated in the discussion.