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World Population Day: Dr Harsh Vardhan emphasizes family planning as human rights issue

Dr Harsh Vardhan

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday chaired the virtual meeting on the occasion of World Population Day, in the presence of Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS (HFW).

Dr. Harsh Vardhan while welcoming everyone on the occasion said, “Commemorating World Population Day is important as it emphasizes the importance of population stabilisation and its vital role in the future of the masses and their health.”It is even more critical now to recognise the importance of providing reproductive health services due to the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

While highlighting the success of the RMNCAH+N programme, Dr Harsh Vardhan highlighted that the strategy of putting family planning at the core has helped to achieve remarkable results. “In the last decade alone, our Crude Birth Rate (CBR) has reduced from 21.8 (SRS 2011) to 20 (SRS 2018) while the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has declined from 2.4 (SRS 2011) to 2.2 (SRS 2018). And the teenage fertility has halved from 16 (NFHS III) to 7.9 (NFHS IV).” He noted that these efforts have taken India closer to reaching the replacement fertility level of 2.1 and 25 out of 36 States/UTs have already achieved replacement level fertility.

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Referring to the Hon. Prime Minister’s commitment to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which transformed into a social movement, he urged everyone to make the population stabilization mission an equally powerful people’s movement. He emphasized that Family Planning provides dignity to women, especially who are poor and marginalized. This needs to therefore be the cornerstone of our efforts for gender equality, maternal and child health, poverty alleviation and propagation of human rights.

Dr Harsh Vardhan also said that India is a fundamental part of the global FP2020 movement, “The Government of India has invested substantial domestic funding to achieve the ambitious FP2020 goals. The major initiatives under Family Planning include Mission Parivar Vikas, Injectable Contraceptive MPA, Family Planning – Logistics Management Information System (LMIS), Family Planning Communications Campaign. The National Family Planning Program has introduced the Injectable Contraceptive in the public health system under the “Antara” program. This contraceptive is highly effective and will meet the changing needs of couples and help women space their pregnancies.” “All this investment has paid us rich dividends in terms of averting nearly 5.5 crore unintended pregnancies, 1.1 crore total births, 18 lakh unsafe abortions and 30,000 maternal deaths as a result of contraceptive use in 2019 alone, as per Track 20 Estimates.”, he added.

Speaking on the benefits accrued through Family Planning, Sh Ashwini Kumar Choubey said, “Family planning not only keeps the population stable but also helps ensure good health for women, families and communities. Population stabilization ensures that resources are available for the development of the maximum population. It is more important for India since at present, about 50 percent of the country’s population falls in the reproductive age group of 15-49 years.”

The Health Minister also released the AB-HWC Mobile application developed by Ministry of Health and family Welfare. The App is designed to streamline the process of data reporting at AB-Health and Wellness Centres. It is an extension of AB-HWC Portal which is already used by state, district and AB-HWC facility in-charge to report data pertaining to service utilization at AB-HWCs to enable real time performance monitoring and act as a tool for planning. It shall provide real time information on the people who have been screened, dispensation of healthcare services and drugs, footfalls, and referrals made to PHCs.

Noting that COVID-19 has imposed additional responsibilities on the frontline healthcare workers, Dr Harsh Vardhan praised the HWCs for their tireless services towards COVID-19 and also to ensure that non-COVID essential services are not adversely affected

Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW), Mr. Rajesh Bhushan, OSD (MOHFW), Ms. Vandana Gurnani, Additional Secretary and Mission Director (NHM) and Dr. Manohar Agnani, Joint Secretary (RCH) and other senior officials along were also present in the virtual event. Representatives of development Partners connected with the observance through virtual mediums.

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