Awareness drives to make vasectomy popular remain short-lived. Moreover, such drives are received better in rural reas compared to urban pockets and the burden of birth control continue to remain on women. State health authorities have, however, reason to cheer with Maharashtra recording more number of vasectomies than other states.
Gadchiroli has been adjudged the ‘best performing district’ in the country with the highest number of vasectomies — 2,963 — in 2016-17. In 2015-16 too, Maharashtra was praised by the Centre for its efforts to encourage the participation of men in family planning. Then also, the state had topped the country in vasectomies. As many as 14,821 men underwent non-scalpel vasectomy (NSV) in 2015-16, state family welfare bureau officials said.
Dr N D Deshmukh, Assistant Director, State Family Welfare Bureau, said the response in rural areas was better.
There has been a concerted effort in recent years to encourage men to undergo the procedure and the Centre provides Rs 1,451 in compensation against loss of wages. “We have trained more than 60,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to counsel beneficiaries on NSV. More than 10,000 workers visited households to sensitise prospective beneficiaries and over 10,000 Auxillary Nursing Midwife (ANMs) have spoken to households about the advantages and benefits of NSV,” Dr Deshmukh said.
Vasectomies barely take 20 minutes as against laparoscopic tubal ligations, which involve General Anaesthesia. According to state health data, of 5.3 lakh sterilisations, 34,511 men underwent NSV as a family planning procedure in Maharashtra in 2009-10.
It, however, showed a declining trend for a few years till a marginal increase was registered in 2015-16. The state family welfare bureau registered 14,821 NSV procedures out of 4.6 lakh sterilisations that year. In 2014-15, it had registered 13,952 such procedures out of 4.7 lakh sterilisations. Dr Deshmukh said the NSV performance oscillates between 3 and 6 per cent.
The acceptance of NSV is higher in tribal and rural pockets compared to urban areas, officials said. In 2016-17, the better-performing districts included Gondia (1,534), Bhandara (1,115), Nashik (1,126), Nandurbar (1,111), Chandrapur (1,098), Amravati (636) and Kolhapur (670). Pune district registered 521 vasectomies. “We are trying to create an enabling environment and stepping up inter-personal communication as part of the strategy to revive male participation in family planning,” Dr Deshmukh said.
At Pune Municipal Corporation, health officials are struggling to get men to undergo NSV. In December last year, they were able to encourage 104 men to undergo NSV of a total 7,273 sterilisations. In the last two weeks, however, when NSV camps were organised at five corporation-run hospitals, authorities said only two men underwent the procedure. “We are now stepping up the awareness campaign…,” Dr Anjali Sabne, Assistant Medical Officer (PMC), said.