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Achieving family planning with CycleBeads
September 20, 2005 11:39 IST
What the infamous nasbandi of the 1970s and the subsequent family planning drives could not achieve, doctors in Delhi are now trying to accomplish through a simple colour-coded set of beads.
Called the Standard Days Method, it uses a set of colour beads to help identify fertile and non-fertile days and thus plan spacing between two pregnancies, besides avoiding unwanted pregnancies.
The method has been developed by American researchers at Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health and is being successfully used in nearly 25 countries around the world, says Dr Bulbul Sood, Country Director, Centre for Development and Population Activities.
"In a country like India, where 78 percent of the pregnancies are unplanned and nearly 25 per cent unwanted, it can serve as an inexpensive, easy to use and 95 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy," says Dr Sood. "The Indian government too has included it in the RCH-II programme for expanding contraceptive choices," she says.
"This simple, effective method should be made widely accessible...we will work out details and start SDM in as many areas as possible in a large way," says P K Hota, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Dr Victoria Jennings, Director, Institute of Reproductive Health, says the efficacy trials of SDM in various countries have shown that the method is 95 per cent effective with correct use. It has been included in international guidelines published by the WHO.
CycleBeads, a patented product, is a color-coded set of beads, which helps women identify fertile and non-fertile days and monitor cycle length. "The method is also appealing from a cost-perspective. CycleBeads are a one-time, low-cost purchase," adds Dr. Jennings.
"Millions of Indian women are at risk of an unwanted pregnancy and 70 per cent of women who want to space their next birth are using no family planning methods. Yet birth spacing methods are not widely promoted or used," says Dr Sood. "Lack of safe, effective and accessible birth-spacing methods is barrier to contraceptive choice in India. The SDM can help address this need."
Research conducted by CARE India and CEDPA in UP and Delhi shows that there is demand for the method among couples who have never used family planning before and that it can be provided effectively by community health workers in rural and slum settings.
In Sitapur, less than three per cent of women had been doing anything to prevent pregnancy in the two months prior to adopting the SDM, she says. The method is now ready to be scaled up and targeted work is going on with the Ministry of Family Health and Welfare in Jharkhand, by Urmul Trust in Rajasthan and PREM, an NGO in Orissa, says Dr Sood.