Reproductive health introduction.
Now, let’s discuss a closely related topic – reproductive health.
What do we understand by this term?
The term simply refers to healthy reproductive organs with normal functions.
However, it has a broader perspective and includes the emotional and social aspects of reproduction also.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), reproductive health means a total well-being in all aspects of reproduction, i.e., physical, emotional, behavioural and social.
Therefore, a society with people having physically and functionally normal reproductive organs and normal emotional and behavioural interactions among them in all sex-related aspects might be called reproductively healthy. Why is it significant to maintain reproductive health and what are the methods taken up to achieve it? Let us examine them.
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH – PROBLEMS AND STRATEGIES :
India was amongst the first countries in the world to initiate action plans and programmes at a national level to attain total reproductive health as a social goal.These programmes called ‘family planning’ were initiated in 1951 and were periodically assessed over the past decades. Improved programmes covering wider reproduction-related areas are currently in operation under the popular name ‘Reproductive and Child Health Care (RCH) programmes’. Creating awareness among people about various reproduction related aspects and providing facilities and support for building up a reproductively healthy society are the major tasks under these programmes.
With the help of audio-visual and the print-media governmental and non-governmental agencies have taken various steps to create awareness among the people about reproduction-related aspects. Parents, other
close relatives, teachers and friends, also have a major role in the dissemination of the above information. Introduction of sex education in schools should also be encouraged to provide right information to the young so as to discourage children from believing in myths and having misconceptions about sex-related aspects. Proper information about reproductive organs, adolescence and related changes, safe and hygienic sexual practices, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), AIDS, etc., would help people, especially those in the adolescent age group to lead a reproductively healthy life. Educating people, especially fertile couples and those in marriageable age group, about available birth control options, care of pregnant mothers, post-natal care of the mother and child, importance of breast feeding, equal opportunities for the male and the female child, etc., would address the importance of bringing up socially conscious healthy families of desired size.
Awareness of problems due to uncontrolled population growth, social evils like sex-abuse and sex-related crimes, etc., need to be created to enable people to think and take up necessary steps to prevent them and thereby build up a socially responsible and healthy society.Successful implementation of various action plans to attain reproductive health requires strong infrastructural facilities, professional expertise and material support.
These are essential to provide medical assistance and care to people in reproduction-related problems like pregnancy, delivery, STDs, abortions, contraception, menstrual problems, infertility, etc. Implementation of better techniques and new strategies from time to time are also required to provide more efficient care and assistance to people. Statutory ban on amniocentesis (a foetal sex determination test based on the chromosomal pattern in the amniotic fluid surrounding the developing embryo) for sex-determination to legally check increasing female foeticides, massive child immunisation, etc., are some programmes that merit mention in this connection.
Research on various reproduction-related areas are encouraged and supported by governmental and non-governmental agencies to find out
new methods and/or to improve upon the existing ones. Do you know that ‘Saheli’–a new oral contraceptive for the females–was developed by scientists at Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) in Lucknow, India?
Better awareness about sex related matters, increased number of medically assisted deliveries and better post-natal care leading to decreased maternal and infant mortality rates, increased number of couples with small families, better detection and cure of STDs and overall increased medical facilities for all sex-related problems, etc. all indicate improved reproductive health of the society
POPULATION EXPLOSION AND BIRTH CONTROL :
In the last century an all-round development in various fields significantly improved the quality of life of the people. However, increased health facilities along with better living conditions had an explosive impact on the growth of population. The world population which was around 2 billion (2000 million) in 1900 rocketed to about 6 billions by 2000. A similar trend was observed in India too. Our population which was approximately 350 million at the time of our independence reached close to the billion
mark by 2000 and crossed 1 billion in May 2000.
That means, every sixth person in the world is an Indian. A rapid decline in death rate, maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) as well as an increase in number of people in reproducible age are probable reasons for this. Through our RCH programmes, though we could bring down the population growth rate, it was only marginal. According to the 2001 census report, the population growth rate was still around 1.7 per cent, i.e., 17/1000/year, a rate at which our population could double in 33 years. Such an alarming growth rate could lead to an absolute scarcity of even the basic requirements, i.e., food, shelter and clothing, in spite of significant progress made in those areas. Therefore, the government was forced to take up serious measures to check this population growth rate.
The most important step to overcome this problem is to motivate smaller families by using various contraceptive methods. You might have seen advertisements in the media as well as posters/bills, etc., showing a happy
couple with two children with a slogan Hum Do Hamare Do (we two, our two).
Many couples, mostly the young, urban, working ones have even adopted an ‘one child norm’. Statutory raising of marriageable age of the female to 18 years and that of males to 21 years, and incentives given to couples with small families are two of the other measures taken to tackle this problem.