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June 20, 2001

'31'

EMPOWERED ACTION GROUP ON POPULATION STABILIZATION TO FOCUS ON BIHAR AND U.P.

SPECIAL SESSION TO BE HELD AT PATNA

    The Empowered Action Group (EAG) set up to facilitate preparation of area-specific programmes in eight States, namely, Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Chhatisgarh, Orissa, Rajasthan, UP and Uttaranchal, which have lagged behind in containing population growth to manageable levels, held its first Business Session on June 18, 2001 under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. C.P. Thakur. The participants included, among others, representatives of the EAG States; Union Secretaries of Health, Family Welfare, and Indian Systems of Medicine & Homoeopathy; and the representatives of key Central Ministries/Departments of Women & Child Development, Rural Development, Elementary Education & Literacy; and the representatives of Voluntary Health Association of India, Family Planning Association of India, ICMR, NIHFW, and IIPS, Mumbai.

    Detailed presentations were made by the member states reflecting upon the areas of concern, the measures taken by the State Governments to achieve systemic reforms and their expectations from the various Ministries of Government of India to emerge from the socio-demographic backwardness. It was agreed that the EAG needs to strengthen the systems of governance and monitoring. However, the greater need is to involve the community successfully through local empowerment and convergence. In a federal structure like India, there is need to strengthen the Centre-State coordination before direct interventions can be made at district levels.

    The EAG decided to accord particular attention to the States of UP and Bihar where the situation appeared to be rather acute. The data from rapid household surveys have indicated that the services are nearly non-existent in large parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. For example, the couple protection rate (percentage of couples practicing any spacing/terminal method of family planning) was less than 30 per cent in 34 (out of 70) districts in Uttar Pradesh and 29 (out of 37) districts of Bihar. Similarly, in 21 districts of Bihar and 14 districts of Uttar Pradesh, less than 30 per cent pregnant women only were reached with ante-natal services. The EAG also decided to hold a special Session at Patna.

    The EAG resolved to work with the participating States in formulating their action plan for improving service delivery. It was agreed that the plans will be prepared on the basis of the following guiding principles :