BioVoice News December 2016-January 2017 Issue 8 Volume 1 - Page 24

Repositioning family planning as a health and development issue can lead to designing programs that address women ’ s reproductive health needs along with family planning .

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continues to be viewed as population control , however , these are two very different concepts . Organizations such as ours , strive towards advancing reproductive rights and choice for women and men . To achieve this , multiple stakeholders , including NGOs and corporates need to work along with the Government . NGOs can play a significant role by : i ) increasing public and political participation in family planning and contraception , ii ) creating awareness on the need for family planning iii ) advocating for an increased basket of choice and increased budget iv ) by ensuring a rights based approach in family planning policy and programmes in the country .
How closer do you think India is to the FP2020 commitments and overall SDGs ?
With four years remaining to meet the FP2020 goal of reaching 48 million additional users , the FP2020 platform is helping countries and partners to accelerate progress . The work of the family planning community is having a positive impact . While India is currently finalizing the analysis of the NFHS-IV , and when available , the national and state-level data will provide an opportunity to assess the country ’ s progress . However , it is encouraging that the Indian Government is reviewing its existing programs and taking measures to provide a wider range of short-term and long-term acting contraceptive methods , including the introduction of injectables , centchroman and Progestin-Only Pills ( POP ) in the public health system . India is also focusing on expanding investment in postpartum family planning and working towards

Repositioning family planning as a health and development issue can lead to designing programs that address women ’ s reproductive health needs along with family planning .

improving the quality of family planning services .
The Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs ) have successfully engaged and sustained governments as well as citizens ’ participation for mobilizing resources to increase accountability in many developing countries including India . The Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs ) were launched recently and India is increasingly paying attention to developing programs to fulfill the SDGs . It is too early to assess the outcome .
What kind of future do you visualize for the Indian Family Planning Program ?
The recent Supreme Court judgment in the Devika Biswas v / s Union of India case has the potential to engaged and take forward India ’ s Family Planning goals . The judgment has three clear directives - one , it calls for ending the practice of holding sterilization camps within the next three years . Two , the judgment calls upon State Governments and Union Territories to ensure that family planning targets are not fixed - so that health workers do not follow what would amount to forced or non-consensual sterilization merely to achieve the targets .
Three , the judgment makes a number of concrete recommendations for improving the implementation of family planning programmes . This judgment , if implemented effectively , has enormous potential for changing India ’ s Family planning landscape .
Though , 24 Indian states have already achieved replacement level fertility . But , a decrease in fertility rate has not resulted in improved maternal health given the practice of early marriage , early childbearing and closely spaced births . Repositioning family planning as a health and development issue can lead to designing programs that address women ’ s reproductive health needs along with family planning .
India ’ s Family Planning program should not be a vertical program but view women ’ s sexual and reproductive health within a comprehensive approach . There is a need for convergence with other programs such as literacy , socioeconomic status , women ’ s empowerment , reproductive and sexual health as well as other development indicators .
Working with young people is critical for India to make the most of its demographic advantage of having a young population . The need for effective family planning has never been greater than it is today as the largest group of people in Indian history move through their reproductive stage . Another important aspect that I would wish for India ’ s Family Planning programme is to encompass men , adolescents , youth and unmarried couples into its folds . However , it is implicit that to be able to do this we would require an increased budget .
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BioVoiceNews | December 2016 - January 2017