Gonda, India (July 2015) — Pavan Kumar lives with his wife Shashi and their two children — a 10-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy — in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda District. Gonda is a high-priority district for health interventions. In this community, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) visit families and provide basic health care information including the latest methods in family planning.
Pavan, 32, recently opted for no-scalpel vasectomy (NSV), a service the population of the district can greatly benefit from. To help address the state’s high infant and maternal mortality, the Government of India through ASHAs has been trying to motivate the community to opt for spacing and limiting methods. Gonda has an unmet need of 40.6% (limiting 23.5 and spacing 17.1), reflecting a greater need for family planning methods.
“Male sterilization or NSV has not been the preferred method in the district. For years, sterilization has been known only as a woman’s business. Other factors responsible for less preference of NSV [in the district] include the fear of developing physical weakness or less macho (kam-mardana),” says Manju Mishra, the Block Health Worker for Ghiroli. “I have been working with the ASHAs and trying to break this myth by reaching out to the community and ensuring family planning gets discussed among other agenda of the village.”
Manju says, “The Government’s efforts have proven to be a motivating factor in boosting their morale. Jyoti, the ASHA who motivated Pavan to opt for NSV [also present during the discussion], has received an honorarium for facilitating a few other families this year.”
Jyoti, when asked what has changed since the government’s interventions on family planning, shared, “For years the state has been plagued by rumors that create roadblocks for seeking family planning services and generating awareness among the community. You will be surprised; there are families here with 10, even 12 children. This community was in urgent need of intervention. The three to four cases of NSV in this block might seem like a drop in the ocean, but looking into the lives and mindset of people living here—these interventions could soon lead to more profound changes.”
So why did Pavan choose NSV? “I myself have seven siblings. One of my brothers passed away when I was really young. My mother suffered through ailments for years before she passed away, too,” said Pavan. “ The story is pretty much the same in many households here. ASHA and ANM [Auxiliary Nurse Midwife] didi (sister) spoke to me about the benefits of NSV and how it would directly impact the health of my wife and children.”
When asked about his health since undergoing the NSV procedure, including any weakness or side effects, he shared that there were none: “The entire procedure hardly took 10 minutes—no stitches—and I could get back to work the very next day. In fact, I was also given a compensation by the government for the expense I had to bear to move to and fro from the health facility.”
Pavan’s 27-year-old wife has been extremely pleased that her husband was supportive of a vasectomy and places her and her children’s health as a priority. “To watch Shashi smile makes me feel I have done something right,” says Pavan as he poses for a family picture.
In a district where NSV was reported at zero last year, according to Health Management Information System data, Pavan is a catalyst of change. With the continued intervention of the Government of India to promote permanent sterilization, especially NSV, such cases of people opting for the same procedure are expected to rise.
This story was reported by Gauri Rishi, Documentation Officer for the National Technical Support Unit – Family Planning, set up by Jhpiego (India) in November 2013, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.