In a thoughtful move to promote family planning among migrant workers who have returned to their states and also to prevent unintended pregnancies, the Bihar government is distributing contraceptives and condoms among labourers after they complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The state government is also distributing family planning kits and giving Rs 500 to each of them.
Manoj Kumar, executive director, Bihar State Health Society, said that the unique initiative was carried out without much publicity. "It is also being done during the house to house surveys by health personnel. It is relevant to promote family planning," Kumar said, adding that the lockdown could lead to rise in unintended pregnancies.
The process of distribution has already begun in Gopalganj, Samastipur, Rohtas, East Champaran, Chapra, Supaul and Jamui districts and has garnered a lot of appreciation from migrants.
"I have been given a packet containing condoms and anti-pregnancy pills when I along with 20 others was discharged from the quarantine centre recently," a migrant from Gopalganj told The New Indian Express.
The state health department has said that the migrants, even when they were in quarantine, were counselled on safe family planning methods and how to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
The health department, along with Asha workers and some health personnel are also gifting family planning kits to the married migrant workers. Nearly two lakh kits have been distributed in the last few days.
Bihar is the state with the highest fertility rate in India at 3.4 children per woman, according to the National Family Health Survey 2016. The state witnessed a steep increase in institutional deliveries in the nine months when migrant workers returned home from the cities to spend time with family during festivals and occasions.
"We are distributing condoms and contraceptives as we have noticed that nine months after March and November when maximum migrants return for Holi, Diwali and Chhath, there is a big increase in institutional deliveries, but which go down in the preceding and following months," Kumar added.
According to a report titled, 'Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Family Planning and Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage' continuous lockdowns and significant disruptions to medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic could leave 47 million women in low and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, which could result in seven million unintended pregnancies in the coming months.