Compulsory registration of pregnancy. Well conceived. TN’s Plan to improve maternal and baby health.
The Tamil Nadu State Government is planning a laudable scheme. The idea is to make formal registration of pregnancy mandatory. The State Health Secretary Mr J Radhakrishnan believes this will help reduce infant mortality rates (infant deaths per 1,000 live births) and maternal mortality rates (maternal deaths per 100,000 live births).
TN already faring well vis a vis Rest of India
|Infant Mortality Rates (deaths per 1000 live births)||2008||2013||2008′||2013′||08||13|
|Maternal Mortality Rates (deaths per 100,000 live births)||2004-06||2007-09||2010-12||2011-13|
Tamil Nadu is already faring well. It ranks second (behind) Kerala on infant mortality (21 for TN and 12 for Kerala). On maternal mortality, only Kerala and Maharashtra are better (79-TN, 68 – Maharashtra and 61 – Kerala) . As this data from 2008-13 shows, Punjab has reduced (improved) best on both these rates. Against All-India drops of 25% each in 2013 against 2008 rates, TN has the second highest percentage drops in both these indices 32% for Infants and 33% for mothers. Punjab with 37% and 36% respectively has had the largest drops in this five year period.
It is never a easy choice to make for would be parents. When to announce the news of the would-be mother’s pregnancy is one. Whom to inform first? Whether the girl’s mother or the boy’s mother to put it (ironically) humourously. When to communicate to friends/ neighbours/ relatives/ etc could be another poser. The Registrar of Conceptions will now definitely know, courtesy the doctor or hospital that the expectant mother/ couple frequent.
Programs to improve health, especially of the vulnerable sections are very welcome. However with this move one cannot but wonder about the increasing ‘Big Brother’ watch on individual citizens. Even George Orwell in his 1984 would not have remotely suspected how a State could actually implement the ‘Big Brother’ program. The young Aadhar Card program in India is slowly getting ‘embedded’, socially, politically, financially, et al.
Stages in the Process. ‘Registration’ rearing its ‘roving eye/head’ ?
In ending, the typical Indian family goes though four stages in the child birth process. Two of these, marriage and birth of child already need to be mandatorily registered in India. Tamil Nadu is now proposing regulation on registering pregnancy. Only one stage is still private. For how long, one cannot say!
Besides these potential ‘on-line’ onslaughts on offline activities, many might still have mis-givings about the recent development. What if there is a miscarriage? The trauma / ‘social stigma’ associated with it, were the information to be made public. Or what if the pregnancy itself had been a misconception, rather ‘mis-diagnosis’? A few years back, a lady believed to be pregnant was later discovered very sadly to be carrying a tumour. Or what if the person (from a very conservative environment) has conceived but wishes to keep the news under wraps since she is still a miss? Are the laws and processes robust enough to respect her right to privacy, even if she can muster the courage to register her pregnancy.