By Manasi Nene
DNA has reported that now, condoms will be freely distributed in rural areas in high-fertility districts. This is part of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s Mission Parivar Vikas, which focuses on family planning in states and regions with the highest rates of fertility. The government is planning to place boxes of condoms at locations like health facilities, and Gram Panchayat Bhavans.
This scheme targets 146 districts in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam, which are currently contributing to 28 percent of the population, and 50 percent of infant deaths. According to JP Nadda, Union Health Minister – “The greater the TFR (Total Fertility Rate), the more will be the MMR (Maternal Mortality Rate) and IMR (Infant Mortality Rate). Hence, reducing the TFR would lead to decrease in maternal mortality and morbidity and infant mortality and morbidity.”
The scheme also includes handing out family planning kits to newlywed couples, injectable contraceptives and oral contraceptives. They also plan to bring in local actors to increase awareness about family planning, and deploy special buses and vans with educational material.
Another scheme – the Maternity Benefit Programme – has been implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Pregnant women and lactating mothers are eligible to receive Rs 6,000 from the government, but only when they’re taking care of their firstborns. This is also in an attempt to arrest high rates of childbirth.
With the AYUSH Ministry’s outlook on pregnancy, we’re a little skeptical about how these new benefits will be rolled out. But they seem like genuine ways to improve the health of women and children, and we’re glad that the government is paying attention to it.