Male infertility rising abnormally in Meghalaya?

Raju Das

SHILLONG, Sept 14 - There has been some sort of abnormal increase in male infertility, as well as anaemic pregnant women in Meghalaya, at least over the past couple of years or so.

The inference could be made from a Right To Information report. During 2011-12, the Meghalaya Health Department, under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) increased the order for male infertility treatment medicines by over 4,000 per cent compared to 2010-11.

During the period 2010-11, the number of capsules (Zy 10 Forte) purchased for treating male infertility was only 5,000. However, the Health Department increased the order drastically to 20.07 lakh capsules the next year under the NRHM. In fact, the total male population of Meghalaya in 2011 was close to 15 lakh. The rural male population was about 12 lakh.

The orders were placed after demand from the CHCs, PHCs and Civil Hospitals in the State. The Garo Hills region had a high demand.

In 2011-12, East Garo Hills district alone received 4 lakh capsules for male infertility. The district had a total male population of 1.61 lakh, according to the 2011 census. South Garo Hills with 73,170 male population received 3.5 lakh capsules for male infertility.

West Khasi Hills with 3.24 lakh male population, received 3.48 lakh Zy 10 Forte capsules and East Khasi Hills with 4.10 lakh males, received 2 lakh capsules, the finding said.

The total cost of the medicines purchased was Rs 7.12 crore during 2011-12, but the cost of the medicines, which numbered only 5,000 capsules in 2010-11, was Rs 1.77 lakh.

Similarly, during the same period, the Health Department purchased under the NRHM over 1.44 crore tablets (Iron and Folic Acid) to treat anaemia among pregnant women, the RTI revealed.

However, what remains a puzzle is that close to 15 lakh Iron and Folic Acid (0.5 mg) tablets expired during 2010-2011, which meant there were no beneficiaries indentified for these medicines.

“It certainly looks like the number of male infertility and anaemia among pregnant women in Meghalaya was rising abnormally. There has to be a thorough probe as this was under an important Central health care programme,” Agnes Kharshiing, president of Civil Society Women’s Organisation said.