Official document exposes government’s intent to incentivise sterilisation

Fourteen women had died and 140 others were left ill after a botched sterilisation drive in Chhattisgarh

By Jyotsna Singh
Published: Monday 17 November 2014

Unconscious women lie on the floor after undergoing sterilisation operation at a community health centre in Kolayat block in Bikane

Union health minister J P Nadda had recently claimed that sterilisation drives in India are not driven by targets but by demands. However, a letter, whose copy is in possession with Down To Earth, defies the claim.

The minister made the statement days after 13 deaths in Takhatpur camp in Bisalpur district of Chhattisgarh. The incident had left nearly 140 women ill.
In a letter dated October 10, 2014, the National Rural Health Mission, under the aegis of Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, had ordered to increase the compensation given to all those involved in sterilisation services in 11 high focus states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Assam, Haryana and Gujarat.

The letter says that family planning is crucial to meet Millennium Development Goals. Citing Family Planning 2020 document, the letter explains that the recently-computed global goals also underline the importance of sterilisation in family planning, especially for the 11 states and rules out the importance of other possible methods of birth-control—like use of contraceptives or intrauterine device (IUD).

The ministry, through this letter, for the first time since September 2007, announced a revision in compensation scheme for sterilisation. The compensation has been increased from Rs 600 to Rs 1,400 for each woman who undergoes the procedure, from Rs 150 to Rs 200 for each accredited social health activist (ASHA) and from Rs 75 to Rs 150 for the concerned surgeon. The compensation for other officials who are involved in the process has also been increased and the budget of each sterilisation has been doubled from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000.  In cases where government involves any non-governmental organisation or accredited private facility, the compensation is now up from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000.

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