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Facing flak, MP govt withdraws circular on sterilisation

Facing flak, MP govt withdraws circular on sterilisation

Facing flak from the opposition, the Madhya Pradesh government Friday withdrew the sterilisation circular that was issued by the state's National Health Mission (NHM) Director last week.

According to the circular, the state government had warned male multi-purpose health workers (MPHWs), who failed to mobilise even one man for sterilisation in 2019-20, that their salaries would be withheld and they would be compulsorily retired.

The order sparked a furore, with the former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan terming the move as "undeclared emergency in Madhya Pradesh."

"Is this the Emergency Part-2 of the Congress? If the efforts of the MPHW (Male Multi Purpose Health Workers) are lacking, the government should take action, but the decision to withhold salary and retire if the goal is not met is dictatorial," Chouhan had tweeted.

Following the criticism, Health Minister Tulsi Silawat announced its immediate withdrawal.

Citing the National Family Health Survey-4 report, which recorded that only 0.5 per cent men were opting for sterilisation in the state, the NHM had asked top district officials and Chief Medical and Health Officers (CHMOs) to identify male workers with "zero work output" and apply the "no work no pay" principle — if they don't log at least one case in the 2019-20 period that ends next month.

The circular had stated that if the situation did not improve, proposals recommending compulsory retirement of MPHWs would be sent through District Collectors to the NHM headquarters in Bhopal from where they would be forwarded to the Health Directorate for further action.

The circular had also said that all the MPHWs should mobilise at least five to 10 "willing beneficiaries" when camps are held in districts. According to NHM Deputy Director Dr Pragya Tiwari, there was "almost no participation" of men in the family planning program.

"We are not saying you use coercive methods. We want them to strength advocacy. There are many who want to limit their family size but lack awareness. It's their job. If you can't motivate even one person in one full year it shows your work output. What's the use of spending tax payers' money on salary?" she said.

Officials said the decline in male and female sterilisation figures began in 2015-16 when the courts ruled against a coercive approach and the state government did away with "targets".

(Inputs and image from indianexpress.com)

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