Within first year of organising Mahila Swasthya Shivirs, or women health camps, as many as 133 women including those from the Below Poverty Line category, have successfully delivered babies and 264 more couples are getting medical treatment sponsored by National Health Mission, Madhya Pradesh, through the State Illness Assistant Fund. Men & Women from tribal districts of the State are being provided medical attention in the State capital Bhopal and other major cities, writes Divakar Mukherjee of Elets News Network (ENN).
Rupa Bai and her husband had to wait 15 years to hear the first cry of their baby. Hailing from the border district of Neemuch, Rupa was married to Dinesh in her late teens. But unable to have a child, the young couple was facing a threat of social boycott.
Doctors at ‘Mahila Swasthya Shivir’, or women health camp, which was organised in her village, referred Rupa’s case to Roshini clinic – an extended OPD in district hospitals for women. After undergoing treatment for three months at an authorised private hospital with all expenses borne by National Health Mission Madhya Pradesh (NHM MP), the couple got blessed with a baby girl.
It is not a standalone case. More than 130 couples were blessed with babies through Mahila Swasthya Shivirs organised across the State.
Within the first year of organising these camps, 133 women from the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category successfully delivered babies and 264 more couples from remote tribal districts are receiving treatment at private hospitals sponsored by the NHM MP through the State Illness Assistance Fund.
Citing a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, S Viswanathan, Mission Director, National Health Mission, says that infertility is a worldwide problem affecting 8-12 per cent couple (50-80 million) during their reproductive lives.
He further adds that a study by WHO places the rate of infertility in India at 10-15 per cent of the population.
On the initiatives taken by the Madhya Pradesh Government to address this issue, Viswanathan has a long list of steps taken to fight infertility – considered a taboo subject in the rural areas of the State.
The Department of Health and Family Welfare has initiated the management of infertility through State Illness Assistance Fund in identified private Artificial Reproductive Technique (ART) centres for reducing out of pocket expenses.
According to Viswanathan, obstetricians and gynaecologists of District Hospitals are also trained in the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI)-recognised training institutes for diagnosis and basic treatment of infertility.
The district hospitals have been developed as units where preliminary investigations such as thyroid profile, VDRL, Semen Analysis, HIV, CBNAAT, USG, HSG, etc, are being carried out to elucidate the type and cause of infertility.
To ensure the availability of free medicines, rate contract for required medicines has been done.
“Also, as far as cost of treatment is concerned, the department is reimbursing total cost of management for BPL families for Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF),” adds Viswanathan.
“As the problem of infertility affects social, physical and mental well being of a couple, the department is ensuring support to families, especially couples belonging to BPL category to reduce their out of pocket expenditure.”
Giving further details about the camps, he says that non-pregnant women from the villages with high risk of diabetes, hypertension, infertility and cancer were identified through these camps. In 2016, a total of 117,523 women and in 2017, a total of 82,921 women were referred to higher centre for treatment, out of which nearly 15 per cent of couples visited with infertility problem.
Significantly, majority of these couples were belonging to BPL families, he said, adding also it was observed that many couples were not aware about the cause and factor for infertility.
Citing the example of 43-year-old, Rekha Soni, a resident of Bhalumada village of Naxal-affected Anuppur district, the MD NHM says she was childless for 25 years of her married life. Due to infertility she had to face mental stigma and social boycott from close kin in her conservative village.
But this initiative of the State government gave a ray of hope to the couple who couldn’t afford costly infertility treatment at private hospitals or IVF, he adds.
Recounting the success this programme has achieved in this short duration, he says that management of 5,497 couples has been initiated in district hospitals across the State.
To execute the initiative in an effective manner, 31 obstetricians and gynaecologists have been trained on basic management of infertility in FOGSI affiliated centres.
Also, he says the Government of Madhya Pradesh has established Level 1 infertility management centres in 31 district hospitals as well as accredited seven private ART centres for advanced treatment.
As the problem of infertility affects social, physical and mental well being of a couple, the department is ensuring support to families, especially couples belonging to BPL cate gory to reduce their out of pocket expenditure
Dr Archana Mishra, Deputy Director – Maternal Health, NHM MP, says since the laparoscopic procedure, IUI and IVF facilities have not been available in District Hospitals and Govt Medical Colleges, the department had accredited the six private ART centres for providing IUI and IVF treatment.
While cases of secondary infertility and APL couples with primary infertility are being managed at District Hospitals, BPL couples with primary infertility requiring diagnostic and operative laparoscopy , hysteroscopy, IUI, IVF are being referred to ART centres, the Deputy Director – Maternal Health says.
The true impact of the progamme is better described by the fact that in a year, 133 women have conceived after receiving treatment initial treatment in Mahila Swasthya Shivirs and Roshini, she adds.
Also, 264 infertile couples are undergoing treatment in private ART centres and out of which 38 women have reported to be pregnant, according to Dr Mishra.
As many as 21 couples are blessed with a child including in ART centres and in district hospitals, she says.