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Manipuri Women Infertility Suspected on Food

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 7 minutes read

By Chingakham Dina, Arambam Karamjit

Infertility is caused due to problems associated with both men and women. Infertility problems in Manipur become widespread issue now. This causes mental stress and financial burdens in the family. Many women are moving out of Manipur for treatment. Interviewing with leading fertility experts from Pratiksha Hospital, a leading infertility treatment centre in Guwahati, came to know that 60% of the patients coming from outside Assam is from Manipur.
A record of about 60% infertility women from whole northeast region excluding that of Assam in a single hospital are from Manipur, is alarming wake up call for Manipur society. Many more women are getting treatment in Manipur too. Large number of patients are also moving to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai etc. to seek medical helps. There are other numerous clinics and hospitals in Guwahati itself where many Manipuri women have been getting treatment related to infertility and IVF procedure. There could be many thousands of Manipuri women suffering from infertility problems. Many women also return home as their reproductive health is beyond the limit of medical help. Health and nutrition are important factors to keep biological continuation from one generation to next. Regarding to nutrition, women from Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland have better status than other states in northeast India according to one of the leading doctors from Pratiksha Hospital. If nutritional intake of Manipuri women is better among north easterners, then why especially so many Manipuri women are vulnerable to infertility problem?
This article is calling attention to concerned department or authorities for awareness and prevention from infertility related issue by taking precautionary action. Infertility is not similar to life threatening diseases but the effects are catastrophe for the couples and suffers from emotional trauma with heavy cost of treatment. With alarming size of population effected by infertility issues, there needs awareness to avoid this fate of childless couples. To understand the underlying problems, we sat and interviewed the founder and leading infertility specialist Dr. Pramod Kumar Sharma and another infertility specialist Dr. Diganta Deka, from the same hospital.
General issues of infertility are related to- late marriage, working women (have more stress), life style, lack of knowledge, infections, smoking, alcohol abuse, genetics, environment pollution, multiple partners and abortion without proper precaution. Late marriage was considered as main cause of infertility a decade ago but now more and more younger couples are also coming for IVF treatment. When couple could not get pregnant in six month or one year, mental pressure grows up with psychological fearsome of social stigma that childless couples could face. This mental pressure is also another factor to compound to the issue of infertility. Life style, working women, smoking and alcohol abuse will not be main causes for Manipuri, which are not in severe situation compared with other societies. Late marriage is one of the main causes that egg quality declines over the age, which cannot be prevented by modern scientific technology. There are many late marriages in another society too but the issue of infertility is too far bigger for Manipuri couples.
Without scientific proof, however we examine to find the possible links to the main causes of the issue by analyzing statistical figure. Every state has some specific issues related to infertility problem regarding to their society and life style, environment, lack of knowledge etc. When the issue of infertility is focused on Manipur society, fertility/infertility doctors opine something else apart from late marriage which was considered the most prevalent cases, and the possible causes come down to some specific points. This analysis is based on patients statistics record, so there needs scientific research to pinpoint the core issues of infertility by concerned department for public health awareness.
Possible link 1
Using Insecticide and Harmful Chemical. Farmers use heavy dose of chemicals, insecticide for crops/grains and growing vegetables. There has been cases of cattle died after consuming vegetables meant for human consumption. DDT chemical causes immature of birds’ eggs, thin shell of bird’s eggs which bring about egg breakage frequently leading to affect the fertility of bird. The tenderness of human eggs without hard shell might not stand better against such chemical. Passing chemicals to human from food is widely reported. Cancer causing reason is also reported from heavy usage of chemical in the field. The present day insecticide and pesticide affects the human health.
Possible link 2
One of the leading doctors was wondering why the case of infertility in Manipuri society is too many. Without further explanation he suspects that the widespread issues of infertility in Manipur could be related to using fermented fish. Otherwise, there could not be any other exceptional reasons for Manipuri only apart from other communities. No doubt that fermented fish (Ngaree) has been used for long time in Manipuri society without any known side effects. If the ngaree hypothesis is true, then the possible problem could be the source of raw material for making ngaree. The present day raw material for making fermented fish is transported in bulk from other states. Dried fish or semi-dried fish easily attracts warms, insects, flies and maggot. In order to protect these raw material fish for ngaree from insects and warms, there might be good chances that the fish stocks were preserved using harmful chemicals before arriving to Manipur.
There have been stories for using formalin, a carcinogenic agent in preserving iced fish transported to Manipur from Andhra Pradesh. Some villagers also reported that people use insecticide to catch fish at border area in Myanmar and the fish is transported directly to Manipur. Unconfirmed sources also suggest that some scrupulous business people use chemical such as fertilizer/urea to fasten the process of fermentation while making ngaree. If the hypothesis turns out to be true, the whole Manipur society is in critical situation because fermented fish is widely used like salt, and chili while cooking in every Manipuri household every day. The infertility cases are also more number among the valley people of Manipur who consume fermented fish than hill people that mostly depend on meat from animal.
Fish is the most common item to make a dish better taste in Manipur. Unconfirmed but highly reliable sources also reveals that diesel oil is injected in the body of semi rotten dead fish before heating and drying on the fire. This process makes the fish more firm bodies, keeping more healthy looks and it avoids breaking down the body while drying. Medical experts confirmed that diesel fuel exhaust fume causes cancer to complicate heath problem. Long term exposure and getting in human body also causes kidney damage and unable blood clotting.
This calling is to have attention from food safety authorities. It is time for food safety authority to investigate any edible food items such as ngaree, dried fish, grain, fruits and vegetables to determine the level of harmful chemicals and insecticide by collecting samples, certification of products selling in the market to greater extend. The scientific findings will help full awareness, precaution and safety from infertility. Infertility issue itself brings great harm to our society economically, emotionally, and socially. Already suffered womenfolks feel that it is time for investigation by food safety authorities to know exactly what we eat; the harmful chemical and insecticide level for common interest for public health and safety.
Fertility/infertility doctors opine that the puzzle of infertility can be alleviated to some extend by awareness and advice. The advancement of science and technology cannot challenge the conformity of nature. In spite of great scientific skill, biology of human body will go on its natural pace. As one gets older, naturally the quality of egg will decrease and chances for pregnancy is comparatively lower.  Try to get pregnant during optimal conceivable age is the advice from one specialist doctor. Beyond that, nature is hard to be challenged.

(Writer’s profile:   

Chingakham Dina- Working at Pathumwiali School, Pathumthani Thailand.  Also taught in Cambodia / Can be reached at chingakham(at)yahoo(dot)com
Arambam Karamjit- Teacher SKN School, Nonthaburi, Thailand/ Former Retail Outlet Manager, Hang Ten Co Ltd, Singapore / Can be reached at ronin9992008(at)gmail(dot)com)

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