Free transport, diet to pregnant women from this year, condoms to be home-delivered

The government will make child-birth at government hospitals totally “cashless” from this year, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said.

Speaking at a forum on HIV and AIDS in New York, Azad also said that India will start the supply of free contraceptives at people’s homes, covering about a sixth of the population, this year.

Azad said nearly 0.31% (one in around 322 people) have HIV in the country, but the proportion of infected people to the overall population is stable. “Over the last decade, there is evidence of stabilization of the epidemic with definite success in reversal in some parts of the country,” he told the “General Assembly on HIV and AIDS.”

He said that under a new scheme being introduced this year, people will not have to pay a single rupee to ensure that their children are born in a government hospital. The government will provide diagnostic tests, drugs, diet and transport free of cost to all pregnant women and sick new-born.

India sees a total of 2.7 crore pregnancies a year, out of which only 1 crore were delivered in hospitals or other such institutions last year, up from just 7 lakh such deliveries in 2006.

To prevent the spread of the HIV, India will also kick off a new initiative to deliver male and female contraceptives, like condoms, directly to the homes using nearly 8 lakh health professionals. The scheme will cover 20 crore people (out of a total of 121 crore) in 17 states.