Mumbai: The government will shortly launch a scheme to make male and female contraceptives available at people`s doorsteps in a major bid to boost population control efforts, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Friday.
Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) volunteers would promote the use of contraceptives - both male and female - at the household level in targeted districts, he said.
"Under the scheme, the centre will make available contraceptives free of cost at the block level, from where ASHA volunteers will pick up their supplies," Azad said, addressing the 53rd Convocation of the International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS) here.
Azad said the 2011 Census shows that efforts towards population stabilisation have yielded results.
"We have succeeded in reducing both fertility and mortality rates substantially and increasing the average life expectancy of the Indian population," he said but expressed concern at the large regional disparities in demographic outcomes across different Indian states.
For instance, he said the Empowered Action Group (EAG) States, like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgrah - where 45 percent of India`s population resides - lag behind the rest of the country in both fertility and mortality rate decline.
Azad emphasised that the government was committed to providing quality and universal health care to the rural population through the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
"The funding to the health sector is going to be increased from the present level of less than 1 percent of GDP to 2-3 percent of GDP during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17)," he said.
He also said that under the newly-launched Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK), the government has made child deliveries at government health institutions completely free.
Launched June 1 this year, the scheme provides for free diagnostic tests including ultrasound, free medicine, free provision of blood, free diet up to three days for normal delivery and up to seven days in case of caesarean births and even free to and fro transport from home to hospital to all pregnant women, Azad said.
The IIPS is a premier academic institution in the field of population studies.
It has trained over 3,000 students and professionals in the field from India and several Asian countries including China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and others.
It is renowned for its expertise in conducting large scale surveys, the results of which help the policy makers in formulating appropriate responses.