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Late abortions post big rise in 10 Odisha dists in 2019

State health officials are worried as they believe such a trend in the districts is an outcome of either rampant sex determination or unwanted pregnancies

Bhubaneswar: In what comes as a shocker, Odisha has reported a big rise in cases of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) or say induced abortions over the years.

What is concerning is the proportion of MTPs in Odisha in 2018-19 is  a whopping 31 per cent of total abortions (spontaneous and induced) in Odisha last fiscal year. The proportion in 2010-14 was in the range of 10 – 25 per cent. The concern is MTPs were done in the second/third trimester of pregnancy, which is considered riskier for a women.

The blip on the radar for Odisha is as many as ten districts in the State have recorded a higher MTP rate, post 12 weeks into the pregnancy. Such high rate of late abortions in the districts have even alarmed the mandarins in the State Health department.

The big reason of worry is health officials believe such trend in the districts is an outcome of either rampant sex determination or unwanted pregnancies.

Data with the State Health Department showed that the women seeking MTP belong to the age group of 20-29 years.

According to the data available with the State Health and Family Welfare Department, the State average of late MTP is around 3 per cent of total MTP during the year 2018-19. However, around 10 districts have reported a rate much higher than that of the State average. Significantly, Nayagarh tops the State with a high of 24 per cent MTPs reported post 12 weeks into pregnancy.

An interesting fact here is Nayagarh had a disastrous record of rampant sex determination. In 2007, the district had hit the national headlines for dumping of fetus in open grounds.

Balangir has recorded a higher rate of 43 per cent MTPs post 12 weeks into the pregnancy during the period  of Apr-May 2019-20. Significant here is Balangir had also been reporting such high rate of late MTPs since 2010. Senior advocate and activist Meenakshi Purohit attributed this to prevalence of rampant sex determination in Balangir.

The data with the State Health Department revealed that along with Nayagarh and Balangir, other districts like Bargarh, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jajpur, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Sambalpur and Sundergarh have recorded high order of late MTPs vis-a-vis the State average.

An analysis showed that except Sundergarh, all other districts have a poor sex ratio at live birth, means sex ratio of newborn. The sex ratio at birth in the districts in 2018-19 was below the State average.

However, in Sundergarh, the sex ratio was 999 female children per1000 male children born in 2018-19. And in the first 2-months of 2019-20, the sex ratio was around 1,008 girl children per 1000 male children born.

A senior gynaec specialist at a government hospital in Sundergarh  explained that the high late MTP rate in the district is an outcome of unwanted pregnancies. It was observed that a majority of late abortions were done in the age-group of  20-25 years. And nearly a half were reported by unmarried females.

An analysis had also revealed that Khurda district, which had reported such late MTP rate of around 13 per cent in 2014-15, had recorded nil cases of late abortions in 2018-19. A study done by Gynecology Department of  Capital Hospital  attributed such high rate of late MTPs then to reasons like environmental factors, injury to physical health and failure of contraceptives.

Data with the State Health Department showed a rise in MTP over the years. The total MTPs recorded in the State in 2018-19 stood provisionally at 3,258. And the same stood at around 1,388 in April-May 2019-20. This shows late average MTPs per day in the first two months of 2019-20 were around 23 from around 9 per day in  2018-19. The State government too has accepted the rising load of late MTPs in the State. Data showed the load per centre now had risen to around 80 which is why, recently, the State government had notified all its 221 delivery points as MTP centres.

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