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Concerns Beyond Targets


Rama V. Baru

LOOKING BACK LOOKING FORWARD: A PROFILE OF SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH IN INDIA
Edited by Shireen J. Jejeebhoy
Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 2004, pp. 240, Rs. 450.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 10 October 2006

Reproductive and Child Health Programme was seen as a radical departure from the ‘target oriented’ family planning programme after the ICPD conference in Cairo. This programme was seen to be a more comprehensive approach that included sexual and reproductive health concerns. The book under review draws together articles that have examined various aspects that are included under the rubric of RCH viz. contraceptive use, maternal health and progressing related care, abortion, reproductive tract injections and STIs; young people’s sexual and reproductive health; infertility and domestic violence. Based on an analysis of available data and published studies these articles examine the status of the various aspects of the programme.   Despite the political and financial backing to the programme there are a number of gaps that are discernible. K.G. Santhya’s article clearly shows that there is a huge unmet need as far as contraceptive use is concerned which is largely due to limited access, availability and of quality general health services. Jejeebhoy and Varkey’s article highlights the trends in maternal mortality, the regional variations it presents and the differential access to health services. As they point there are a number of ‘risk factors’ that seem to influence outcomes and these include poor socio-economic conditions, high prevalence of anaemia, inadequacy of the programme and shortcomings in health services delivery. They also identify research gaps in this area that need further exploitation.   Anjali Widge’s article on infertility is exploring an area that is often neglected since the programme has largely been informed by ‘fertility control’ rather than reproductive problems faced by women. Although the proportion of women suffering from infertility may be small it is estimated that around 6 percent of women in the ever-married age group are childless, the social and psychological pressures that they have to endure is tremendous. The treatment seeking, the responsiveness of the health services and the growth of assisted reproductive technologies that is largely in the commercial sector creates its own pressures at the emotional, social and economic levels.   Domestic violence and its consequences for women’s health has gained attention. A number of surveys have been carried out by International Research Organisation, National Surveys and NGOs. Vijaya Nidadavolu examines available data to study the prevalence, the socio-demographic characteristics and its consequences for both physical and mental health. The available evidence on domestic violence is spare and underestimated since it is a sensitive issue ...


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