Highest reduction over past 5 years among all states, UTs; late marriages one reason, says LD Hospital doctor
Srinagar: With better health care facilities, education, awareness, and financial status, mothers in Jammu and Kashmir have dropped the level of fertility, the number of children they give birth to, to the lowest in the country.
According to the data of the latest National Health Survey, in 2019-21, the fertility level in J&K was recorded at 1.4, which means that a woman here gives birth to less than two babies in her lifetime. As per the data, this fertility rate was 3.6 in 1991, 2.3 in 2007, 2,0 in 2015-16, and now 1.4 in 2019-20.
Across the country, the drop in the fertility rate is the highest in J&K, at 0.6, with the second in the list the states of Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Rajasthan where the fertility rate dropped by 0.4 since the last survey in 2015-16.
The national average fertility rate is 2.0 according to the new survey, with the highest in Bihar at 3.0.
This is despite the fact that there is great veneration of motherhood in Jammu and Kashmir, given its religious and cultural deification. In Kashmir, as soon as a girl crosses her twenties, her parents start looking for a match. Earlier the marriages happened much quicker, but over the years the age of marriage has increased.
The health care system has also been getting better in J&K. Infant Mortality Rate, deaths per 1000 live births, has been significantly lowered – 14 deaths down, from 34 to 20, in the past six years. This has brought J&K to seventh rank among all states and UTs, with 10 deaths less than the all-India average.
Neonate mortality rate, too, has gotten better. In 2017, an average of more than 17 neonates would die per 1000 births at Lal Ded Hospital, the premier maternity hospital in Kashmir, catering to 30 percent of the overall patients. Four year later in 2021, the rate has gone down to nearly 7 out of 1000, a decrease of more than 10 percent.
There is significant improvement in health care delivery with addition of new machinery, hospitals, human resources and accountability.
Dr Nighat Saleem, gynaecologist at the LD hospital, told Kashmir Reader that largely, food habits, environmental factors, and late marriages are the causes for the drop in fertility rates among women in Kashmir. Dr Nighat, who has been examining expecting mothers for more than a decade, said that junk food consumed since childhood has a tremendous impact on the health of a woman.
“This has changed everything about the biology of a woman,” she said. “They come up with PCOD disorder at ages as young as 11, leaving them with lifelong problems. Late marriage is another reason, as the woman does not remain as healthy by the time and thus fails to conceive,” Dr Nighat said.