A team of experts from Amrita Hospital conducted a study to analyse contraceptive use, knowledge, and fertility intentions in Wayanad district and found that only 26.4 percent use contraceptives as compared to the state average of 53 percent. Moreover, knowledge about contraceptive use was poor among more than half of the women (53%).
According to the hospital, The sample size was 2500 women in the reproductive age group of 15-49 years. The women represented in the study are mainly from Paniya, Kurichiyar, Adiya, Kattunaicken.
“This was closely aligned with the knowledge of emergency contraception and educational levels, with higher educational levels having better knowledge. Women who had a higher level of education were 2 times more likely to have better knowledge. The knowledge of emergency contraceptive use was also found to be very poor and this was closely related to poor knowledge of contraceptives in general. Those who desired more than two children had lower knowledge of contraceptives,” it stated on Thursday.
“Initially, only about 41.2% (1027/2495) reported having heard of contraceptives, and on further probing this increased to 50.3% (1256/2495). Only more than a third (36.7%) had above-average knowledge of contraceptives. Less than a fifth, 433 (17.4%) reported having heard of oral contraceptives. Only 68 answered further knowledge questions on OCP of which about a third (33.8%) of the women had above average knowledge,” Said Dr. Aswathy S, Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, who conducted the study.
The Finding was regarding gender norms and expectations. There did not appear to be a gender bias in favor of the male child as only 3.9% reported that another child was necessary if both the children were girls.42.5% preferred two children/family and 38.2% desired three children.
“The key findings are that contraceptive use is lower than the general population at 26.4%. However, the family size is not commensurately high which may be due to the use of traditional methods of contraception. Of those who have used contraception 63.8% had used permanent methods. Among those who had not used a contraceptive worry about side effects and partner not wanting to use a method were the main reasons cited. The use of contraceptives was two times higher among the Paniya group compared to Kattunaicken, a particularly vulnerable tribal group, and other groups. Those who were more vulnerable such as staying in a kutcha house were less likely to use contraceptives,” she added.
This study specifically highlights the need for improving education and increasing awareness of contraceptives among the various indigenous groups in Kerala. The findings of the study was published in the BMJ Open journal in April this year.