GUWAHATI, Oct 26 – The Assam Government is contemplating to put ‘Sukhi’, a contraceptive pill that infiltrates from Bangladesh through the porous Indo-Bangla border, to quality test.
Apprehensions grew after it was found recently that the contraceptive pill meant for women has now reportedly started penetrating markets in urban areas including Guwahati through illegal trade.
In Assam, the illegal sale of Sukhi – an oral contraceptive successfully introduced by Bangladesh as part of its robust family planning initiative – is not new, although it was mostly limited to certain pockets of char and border areas.
But now that the ramification of such illegal sale is expanding, the Health department reckons that time has come to get a quality test done by involving all the stakeholders, including the Centre and the drug testing authorities, opined sources in the Health department.
The government had opted not to act against the illegal sale of Sukhi as the foreign-made drugs reportedly managed to do what many other Indian produced drugs could not, especially when it came to finding acceptance among minority population and the low-income groups.
In fact, a section of experts attributes the marked decline in the fertility rate of districts like Dhubri as was reported in a 2014 Government of India report, to the easy availability and acceptance of Sukhi tablets in these border districts.
According to the 2014 report, the fertility rate (children per women) in Dhubri dropped from nearly four per cent in 2007-08 to 2.6 per cent. The State’s overall fertility rate stands at 2.3 per cent compared to 2.7 per cent in 2007-08.
“Not just in Assam, such contraceptive pills are now being sold illegally in states like Odisha and West Bengal, and believe it or not, it has shown results. But now that the magnitude of the business of this contraceptive, which is mostly smuggled through the porous international border, has gone high, we believe there should be some sort of tests done regarding its ill-effects, if any,” a senior Health department official told this reporter.
“The Bangladesh-produced drugs do not have any mention of price and hence could be sold at any price in the illegal market and there are no tax hassles as well, making it a profitable business,” sources pointed out “At the same time, there should not also be any hesitancy in adopting the best practices, provided it is done in a legal manner,” sources added