Meeting with Community and Religious Leaders in Gorakhpur

On February 23, 2014, a one-day meeting to discuss Health and Family Welfare issues was held with over 30 Religious Leaders and Community Representatives at Vikas Bhawan, Gorakhpur. The meeting was organized by SIFPSA with active support from ARC and PFI.

Uttar Pradesh has the highest share of population in the country and every year it adds population equivalent of Tripura to its total head count. Dr Kajal, AMD, National Health Mission, UP while highlighting various causes of high maternal and infant mortality in the state mentioned that 300 mothers out of every 1 lac deliveries die per year while 53 infants out of every 1000 live births die in a year which puts the state amongst highest burden states. Too early, too late marriages, too frequent and too close pregnancies and two more deliveries are major contributing factors to this situation in the State.

The NHM led programs have positively contributed in improving the overall health and family welfare services through the public sector health institutions in the state and consequently the institutional births have also increased manifold which have positively affected the mortality situation in the state.

It was highlighted that with improved literacy, people are more aware and resistance to adopting family planning in the name of religion is a thing of the past. NHM provides effective options of safe and reliable spacing methods as an alternative to sterilization which should be promoted.

The new health policy of the government focuses on the lifecycle approach covering reproductive, maternal, new born, child health and adolescent health issues. The cafeteria approach provides multiple alternatives coupled with effective counseling offered to the young couples to choose a family planning method of their choice across various government health facilities.

Some of the consensus that emerged included: only after attaining economic stability should one get married, family life education should be introduced at an early stage in all schools and health education should be linked to national services scheme; complete range of quality health care services should be ensured in predominantly Muslim localities in every city; right to education to every child and full opportunity for development should be provided.

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