-ANI): Nepal marks this year's World Population Day with the theme "Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services" on Wednesday.
In its efforts to meet the fifth Millennium Development Goal ( MDG), improving maternal health, the government has adopted and identified nine components in the National Reproductive Strategy 2008.
According to a daily newspaper The Kathmandu Post report, the components are family planning, safe motherhood, newborn care, abortion, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmited Diseases, infertility and subfertility, gynaecological morbidities including uterine prolapse and breast cancer, and gender based violence. MDG 5 has four indicators-the contraceptive prevalence rate, adolescent birth rate, antenatal care coverage and family planning needs.
A major challenge for the government on reproductive health is the disparity between programs, said experts. Family planning and safe motherhood have been government priorities but the rest remain stuck in the police-making phase. Despite of huge investments, newborn care hasn't shown any improvement in the last five years, said experts.
In family planning, the rate of using modern contraceptives, according to the Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2011, is only 43.2 percent, one percent decrease from 2006. This number previously needed to reach 67 percent by 2015 according to the MDG.
According to Dr Sinendra Uprety, director of the Family Health Division at the Department of Health Services (DoHS), the NDHS report showed that fertility rates decreased drastically from 5.1 percent in 1984-86 to 2.6 in 2008-11, meaning that despite the reduction of contraceptive use, Nepal was on the right track.
Similarly, regarding safe motherhood, the number of women consulting either doctors, nurses or midwives during their pregnancy period has increased significantly. However, according to the NDHS, although 58 percent of women went for antenatal consultations, only 36 percent of babies were delivered by doctors, nurses or midwives.
A total of 192 service providers, including 74 nurses, have been trained for safe abortion services and 95,306 women received safe abortion from 487 listed sites, said the annual report of DoHS. However, thousands of women are still undergoing unsafe abortions with the government unable to check the sale of illegal abortion pills that are not registered with the Department of Drug Administration.
The government is also behind when it come to obstetric fistulas. Despite huge investment in the prevention of uterine prolapse, the effectiveness of these programs have been frequently questioned. The major challenge to the government's plans for reproductive health remains the gap between rich and poor, urban and rural and educated and uneducated. (Xinhua-ANI)