Bhopal, Feb 21 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh government was on Friday hustled into withdrawing a National Health Mission circular on motivating men for vasectomies.
NHM Director Chhavi Bharadwaj had on February 11, issued the circular tagging it as ‘Extremely Important’. The official had expressed dissatisfaction over the slackness of MPHWs in motivating potential males for sterilisation. It was sent to all the divisional commissioners, district officers, CMOs and other health officials of the state.
Bharadwaj had appealed in the order to seriously review vasectomy. The circular followed National Family Health Survey-4 report that suggested 0.5 per cent of men were opting for sterilisation in Madhya Pradesh.
The NHM Mission Director asked MPHWs to mobilise at least five to 10 “willing beneficiaries” during the family welfare camps in the districts.
The circular asked top divisional officers and district officers including with health department to identify male health workers with ‘zero work output’ and apply the ‘no work no pay’ principle – if they don’t motivate at least one male vasectomy by March 31.
The circular directed the male multi-purpose health workers (MPHWs) to get at least get one man sterilised in this fiscal ending next month or face withholding of salary or even compulsory retirement. The circular that reminded of provisions during the Emergency, was hastily withdrawn following protests by the opposition BJP.
“I have just now voided the NHM’s order with immediate effect. The language in it was not proper,” said state Health Minister Tulsi Silawat. The minister’s admission about rescinding the order was qualified with a statement that “Things should be done after proper reasoning.” The order has been in effect for 10 days and was to be treated as top priority.
The BJP which keeps directing its tirade against the government over lax approach to family welfare seized the opportunity to protest and said the protests would continue even after the minister ordered the withdrawal of the circular.
Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said, “Madhya Pradesh has an undeclared emergency. Is this Emergency Part II of the Congress? If the efforts of the MPHWs are lacking, the government should take action, but the decision to withhold salary and retire if the targets are not met is dictatorial.”
BJP leader Sambit Patra said the state government’s actions reminded people of the Emergency.
“Congress terms the Centre’s firm administration as ‘Emergency’, while there is an emergency in their own state. Ironically Chief Minister Kamal Nath whose childhood friend Sanjay Gandhi was held responsible for the atrocities in the name of family planning during the Emergency.”
The NHM Director could not be contacted. The order to perform or face action was seen as a means to coerce people to get sterilised.