World Population Day :- A Day of Resolve

In an unprecedented attempt, the Government of Uttar Pradesh, realizing the significance of the World Population Day (WPD), left no stone unturned in creating the right kind of buzz across the state, actively involving SIFPSA, NHM and all major Health Partners in generating waves of mass awareness on various population concerns.

The World Population Day, as the name suggests, is a day celebrated globally on July 11 every year to raise awareness on population issues and the challenges faced by countries and provinces in ensuring health and well-being of their citizens. Started in 1987, World Population Day has gained much popularity with support from Governments, UN agencies, various development organizations, civil society bodies and masses across the world. With a population of over seven billion, it is very important for global citizens to act towards healthier living and realize the importance of smaller families.

The current population of India, based on the latest United Nations estimates, is over 132 crores, which is equivalent to over 17 percent of the total world population. While India houses a large chunk of the global population, Uttar Pradesh alone is home to 16 percent of India's total population. Despite making steady progress on most parameters, the health issues continue to worry the state leadership and program implementers alike. The World Population Day was an occasion for the state government, the stakeholders and citizens to come together and resolve to improve awareness and access to health related information and quality services. It was an occasion to draw attention of the masses towards the importance of smaller families through consistent advocacy and inter-sectoral action.

The state of Uttar Pradesh came alive with the theme of 'Zimmedari Nibhao, Plan Banao' on the occasion of the World Population Day. Taking the process forward, the government decided to observe the world population fortnight beginning July 11 2016, to July 24 2016. A complete canvass of multimedia activities, including messages on radio and television, social media campaigns, carnivals, rallies, street plays, community meetings and house to house interpersonal contacts and communication brought alive the fortnight dedicated to awareness about the advantages of family planning and improved access to quality modern contraceptive services as per the choice and need of eligible couples in the state.

Series of meetings were held to plan out various events and activities in celebrating the world population fortnight in the state. All health partners, in coordination with NHM and SIFPSA, were assigned specific roles, to be played at the state, as well as district and block level where they are present. In the run up to the WPD, a state wide, fortnight-long campaign involving client mobilization and house-to-house contact was undertaken by frontline workers of NHM, SIFPSA, other Health Partners and NGOs. The purpose of this outreach campaign was to create awareness amongst the eligible couples on benefits of a smaller family, identify and populate due list of potential clients, who could be reached out for modern family planning services, helping them plan their families.

The World Population fortnight was preceded by a press conference chaired by Mr. Arvind Kumar Principal Secretary Medical, Health & Family Welfare, GOUP and co-chaired by Mr Alok Kumar, Mission Director NHM and Executive Director, SIFPSA on 8th July, 2016 at Lucknow. The press conference also saw the presence of dignitaries such as Mr. Rigzin Samphel Additional Executive Director, SIFPSA, DR. Kajal Additional Mission Director-NHM and Dr M R Malik DG-MH&FW, UP. The launch of a multimedia based family planning campaign themed 'Zimmedari Nibhao, Plan Banao', complemented by the state specific theme of 'Sanyog se Nahi, Sehemati se Badhayein Parivar' (Child by Choice not by Chance) was announced by the Principal Secretary. He also informed about the Government of India initiatives to boost family planning program, that included modification of the family planning logo, introduction of new family planning methods such as centchroman tablet, an injectable contraceptive DMPA and progesterone only pill (PoP) to the methods of choice for family planning in the public sector and changing the packaging of contraceptives, particularly condom and pills, to make it more appealing for clients. Announcements of several ongoing and upcoming initiatives started by SIFPSA, NHM and Govt of Uttar Pradesh in collaboration with health partners across the state were also made. A U-Tube site of SIFPSA, where short and crisp one-minute messages by health experts are being uploaded for the masses, was also launched by the Principal Secretary during the press briefing.

The main event of the fortnight was coordinated by SIFPSA, which witnessed a large rally flagged off by the Chief Minister, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav from his residence on the morning of the world population day. The rally involved over 200 motorcyclists and cyclists carrying world population day messages and banners followed by thousands of school children, nursing and para medical students and workers and volunteers of development partners and local NGOs, carrying placards and banners with health messages. Signature campaign signed off by the Chief Minister and Mrs Dimple Yadav, MP Kannauj to encourage people to commit to the WPD theme of Zimmedari Nibhao, Plan Banao, saw large numbers flocking to sign the message boards kept at various locations in the city. SIFPSA, along with the development partners, ensured strategic placement of hoardings and availability and distribution of other publicity materials- banners, caps, T Shirts, umbrellas etc. Celebrations in the form of rallies, carnivals, street plays, audio-visual shows, hoardings, banners and so on, across all districts of Uttar Pradesh, took the entire state by storm!

The fortnight long celebration witnessed health fairs organized in all blocks of UP disseminating information on maternal, child health and family planning along with district workshops on public private partnership to promote family planning. To promote access to and utilization of family planning services, all district level hospitals and CHCs held series of static fixed day service (FDS) camps, complemented by FDS in government accredited private hospitals under Hausala Sajheedari program for providing long acting reversible and permanent methods of family planning to clients across the state. Development partners like PSI, HLFPPT, MSI, PSS, Janani etc. contributed significantly in making these events successful. In 25 high priority districts, the Technical Support Unit (TSU) of BMGF held series of FDS camps in the peripheral underserved public health facilities of rural areas, through clinical outreach teams (COTs). The progress of new family planning users served was tracked on a daily basis by the state leadership of NHM.

The government of Uttar Pradesh is also in the process of launching a dedicated helpline 104 for grievance redressal and dissemination of family planning and health related messages. Considering the success of the Health Partners' Forum at the state level, SIFPSA has also initiated creation of similar forums at the division and district levels, to be chaired by the Divisional Commissioner and the District Magistrate respectively. While the district HPF will be convened on a quarterly basis, the divisional HPF is expected to meet every six months. These forums provide a common platform to meet mission objectives through concerted efforts, shared learning, feedback and progress tracking by the concerned partners and government representatives.

As a major boost to the state's capacity for training of doctors and paramedics in family planning techniques, the world population fortnight also saw the activation of 10 Hausala Training Centres (HTCs) in the state. Leading this effort, SIFPSA plans to activate 35 HTCs in the state this year to provide quality training facilities, covering all divisions of the state.

To encourage male engagement in family planning, 21st of every month is being celebrated as NSV day ensuring availability of NSV services at every district hospital and accredited private hospitals. Training of doctors in NSV techniques has been revamped by SIFPSA, with four medical colleges strengthened to hold regular batches of NSV Training.

Another ambitious project that SIFPSA has launched is the m-Sehat- a large pilot project being implemented in the districts of Kannauj, Bareilly, Sitapur, Faizabad and Mirzapur for digitization of village health index register through mobiles and tablets provided to ASHAs and ANMs. Till date more than 1.2 crore population has been covered and their records have been digitalized for real-time recording of services availed. Similarly, promotion of various NHM Schemes is being done in media dark remote villages through Sehat Sandesh Wahini project targeting more than 6000 such villages in the state.

SIFPSA has also embarked upon two new initiatives in order to meet FP2020 goals set in the state. The project titled 'Hausla Apnane Ka' is to be implemented in slums with 5000 plus population in a district, for family planning promotion through IEC Van and urban ASHA initiative. The other project titled 'Sanyog se nahi sehemati se badhayein parivaar' (family by choice not by chance), focusing on educating adolescent girls, plans to cover 10 secondary schools in each district, with emphasis on menstrual hygiene, nutrition, delayed age at marriage and delay of first birth after marriage.

Hausala Sajheedari is another important contribution of SIFPSA and select development partners, encouraging private sector partnership in promoting family planning through a web enabled online system, encouraging potential private sector health care providers for hospital accreditation, also empanelling surgeons to provide quality family planning services in the state. Hausla Sajheedari is already showing signs of success, with over 508 private hospitals accredited and close to 29000 sterilization clients served in the private sector under the intervention.

The fortnight-long world population day celebrations witnessed an unparalleled dynamism, focus and partnership between the Government of Uttar Pradesh, National Health Mission, SIFPSA and various International and National level Development Partners. The energy and attention created during the fortnight long events are sure to have a lasting impact on the family planning scenario in the state, leading to increased acceptance of smaller family norm.

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