April 11, 2015: Inaugurating the ‘Health, Women and Development in Bihar: Role
of Media' workshop Chief Minister Nitish Kumar emphasized the need to focus on
population stabilization and said the proactive work done by the three lakh
Self Help Groups (SHGs) and the remarkably
improved status in the education of the girl children are the two key
parameters of growth in the state. "Women's SHGs have gone a long way in
bringing about women's empowerment in all spheres particularly healthcare and
rural livelihood. The poshak and cycle schemes changed the mindset of an entire
era. Now is the need for qualitative change," he added.
The event was also marked by the Chief Minister launching
Season 2 of the path-breaking serial, Main
Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon, that focuses on women's empowerment and health.
The serial had 58 million viewers in its Season 1 run last year. Over 40 per
cent of them were from Bihar showing the high engagement the people had with
the serial. Mr Feroz Abbas Khan,
Director of the serial was also present on the occasion, along with the Lead
Actor, Ms Meinal Vaishnav who plays Dr Sneha Mathur in the serial. Mr Khan said
that from his travels in Bihar, he was greatly inspired by the Self Help
Groups, Nari Adalats and the Helpline. He is incorporating these into the
serial in the forthcoming episodes.
40 editors, senior journalists and heads of leading media houses from the
state, the Asian Development Research Institute
(ADRI) and Population Foundation of India (PFI) came together to strengthen the coverage of health, women and
development issues in Bihar through a unique initiative, expected to be the
first of a series of interactions. A workshop on Health,
Women and Development was held in Patna today in the presence of the Chief
Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar. Senior government officials including Mr D S
Gangawar, Principal Secretary to the CM, Mr Brijesh Mehrotra, Principal
Secretary Health and Family Welfare, Mr Chanchal Kumar, Secretary to CM and Mr
Rahul Kumar, Assistant Executive Director, State Health Society Bihar.
Nitish Kumar further said that 50% reservation for women in PRIs, recruitment
of primary teachers, women constables and sub-inspectors, a women's battalion
and now the tribal women's battalion, which is being raised has helped in
empowering them both on all fronts. His experience, the CM said, was that it
was girls education which was critical for their health, livelihood and
empowerment. Bihar's girls when educated upto class 12 had lower fertility
rates than the national level.
Government's Manav Vikas Mission, 2013-17, has identified major targets like
reduction in Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to 2.9 from the current level of 3.6,
bringing down the cases of anemia in women and improving the sex ratio to 930
females per 1000 males from the current level of 916. These will go a long way
in population stabilization.
Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India said that Bihar
should take concrete measures to improve the quality and range of family
planning services. The media can play an important role in addressing
development and health challenges in the State by dispelling myths and
misconceptions about family planning and by creating a public movement on
development, health and women's issues.
Gupta, Member Secretary, ADRI, said Bihar has attained the highest growth rate
in the country with its social sector agenda being led from the front under the
current dispensation. He added that the media, civil society organizations and
the state government need to work together to bring the social sector goals on
The Editors emphasized that the state
government needed to step up momentum in the health sector. Social sector
agenda should be institutionalized instead of being dependent on one good
leader or a political party so that continuity was maintained. They also stated
that it was a myth that health or social sector issues did not increase
readership or TRPs. The media should cover more news on health and social
sector on page one and other leading pages as it did increase
readership/viewership. The government, on the other hand should focus on
decisions that are needed rather than populist decisions. Media also needs to
publish more of the success stories that can be inspiring for the readers and
those working on social issues.
Bihar has made impressive progress in
human development over the past decade: the infant mortality rate has fallen
from 61 in 2005 to 42 in 2013 and is close to national average of 40; maternal
mortality rate has also fallen sharply from 312 in 2004-06 to 208 in 2013; the
proportion of fully immunised children 12-23 months has been steadily rising -
from 12% in 1998-99 to 41% in 2007-08 and to 70% in 2012-13. At the same time, however, Bihar faces
certain demographic, health and social challenges that are preventing the State
from realising its full human development potential.
The interactive workshop series is in response to many in the media increasingly
feeling that more needs to be done to highlight stark social realities as well
as successes. The interaction between journalists, civil society organisations is
expected to help journalists understand the issues leading to informed coverage
of the issues. This, in turn, would help in educating, empowering and enabling people,
women in particular, to take informed decisions regarding their health,
education and economic development.