Sex ratio better in villages than cities, says survey

New Delhi, Aug 10: More and more educated people in cities across the country are opting for sex determination tests compared to people in villages, and urban areas are recording a decline in female birth rate, according to the annual health survey (AHS) released Wednesday.

The survey found that sex ratio at birth, under 0-4 years and in all ages in rural areas is better than in urban areas.

The sex ratio at birth across nine states ranges between 764 in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand, and 1,030 in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh.

The survey, released by the health ministry, was carried out in nine states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Orissa and Chhattisgarh – during July 2010-March 2011.

The survey for the first time collected district level data – from 284 districts in nine states – to help the ministry understand the grass root level situation. It covered health indicators like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), sex ratio, maternal mortality rate (MMR), crude birth and death rate.

‘It is a matter of grave concern that educated people in cities are opting for sex determination tests,’ said Health Secretary K. Chandramouli.

He said that the ministry has been facing a problem in practical implementation of the laws against sex determination.

‘The difficulty is that when it comes to sex determination, doctor and patient go hand-in-hand. Patients have to undergo ultrasound for many other medical conditions and it is difficult to find if it is for sex determination or not,’ he said.

According to the health secretary, these indicators would provide requisite inputs for better planning of health programmes and pave the way for evidence-based intervention strategies.

While the sex ratio is better in rural areas, the infant mortality rate there is much higher compared to cities. The highest number of infant deaths takes place in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and in all the nine states female infants experience higher mortality than males.

The maternal mortality rate was highest in Assam with 430 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

The survey concluded that 100 districts contribute for about 50 percent of total infant deaths in these nine states while 57 districts are common hot spots of all the problems.

IANS