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Family planning: focus is now on spacing methods

Special Correspondent
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Top priority for family planning in 12th Five Year Plan

Arvind Limbavali, Minister for Health Family Welfare, interacting with participants at a workshop in Bangalore on Wednesday.— Photo: K. GOPINATHAN
Arvind Limbavali, Minister for Health Family Welfare, interacting with participants at a workshop in Bangalore on Wednesday.— Photo: K. GOPINATHAN

Shifting the focus from family planning only for population control to family planning for improving maternal and child health as well, the Union Government is now promoting spacing methods in a big way.

Revealing this at a two-day review workshop on the Union Government’s Family Planning programme organised jointly by the Union and State Governments here on Wednesday, S.K. Sikdar, Union Deputy Commissioner (Family Planning Division), said that family planning would be given top priority in the 12{+t}{+h}Five Year Plan to provide universal access to health.

As part of the new strategy, the Union Government would now extend the scheme of making contraceptives available to people at their doorsteps through Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs). “This scheme, which was launched on a pilot basis in July 2011 in 233 districts of 17 States, will now be implemented across the country under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). ASHAs will be involved as catalysts for delaying age at first childbirth and spacing between births. A Government Order was issued on December 17,” Dr. Sikdar said. Dr. Sikdar said that under the scheme, ASHAs will deliver contraceptives at the doorstep of people at a nominal charge of Re. 1.

As part of the new strategy, the government will provide assured Intra-uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) services on fixed days at all sub centres in rural areas. “The pilot project in 233 districts has been successful and we want to extend this scheme across the country. As part of the scheme, young mothers will be provided two kinds of IUCDs to provide assured short-term and long-term spacing (five years and 10 years),” he said.

Earlier, Health and Family Welfare Minister Arvind Limbavalli said that the performance of Southern States in family planning strategies was considerably better than the northern States. “The nation now faces the crucial challenge of striking a balance in this regional difference in the health sector,” he said.

Speaking after inaugurating the workshop, the Minister said that Karnataka was the first State to start government-sponsored family planning clinics in Bangalore and Mysore in 1930 under the guidance of the then Maharaja of Mysore. He said that the State’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) stood at 2.0 as against the national average of 2.1.

Meanwhile, the government is gearing up to prepare a blueprint for the proposed National Urban Health Mission under which comprehensive healthcare would be provided to people at the ward level.

Health officials from 12 States, including Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, are participating in the workshop.

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