Condoms at doorsteps to cap population boom

Centre plans to hike incentive for women who undergo sterilisation

The other Central plans to bring down population count include hiking the incentive for women who take up sterilisation surgery to Rs 600. Also, a new centre would be opened at the Union Health Ministry to focus on population control efforts.

The current growth rate of population will defeat the objectives of the National Population Policy 2000, which were to achieve the same fertility rate as in the developed world by 2010 and to attain population stabilisation by 2045.

Northern states contributed most to population growth, according to the ministry. In a few years’ time, nearly half of the population count will be just from the seven North Indian states as against the combined contribution of 13 per cent from the four southern states. Twenty-two per cent of growth will be from Uttar Pradesh alone.

“With a total fertility rate of 2.6 in 2008, it is extremely difficult to achieve population stabilisation by 2045. At the current rate of implementation, we expect to achieve population stabilisation only by 2070,” Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said at the second meeting of the National Commission on Population here on Thursday. Though a declining trend in fertility rates was observed in 14 states, northern and central India continue to have persistently high rates ranging from 3 to 3.9.

To curb population growth, the ministry has proposed three interventions, one of which is to distribute condoms through ASHA, the community health workers scheme under the National Rural Health Mission. Azad said such delivery would help the rural community have direct and easy access to contraceptives. The health workers will be provided with additional incentives for condom distribution.

However, implementation of the plan in northern states should be with caution, experts said. “It’s better to use male health workers for condom distribution in the northern states,” A R Nanda, executive director of the Population Foundation of India and a member of the Commission, told Deccan Herald.

The next step would be to increase compensation for women opting for surgical procedure and setting up of post-partum centres with medical facilities. This would be done with help from private sector, Azad said, at the meeting, also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

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