Mumbai: To give a boost to population control efforts, the government is planning to deliver contraceptives on the doorstep in 266 districts, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad said here on Friday.

"We have chosen 266 high-focus districts and the ministry will be directly distributing the contraceptives, both male and female, to the block level officials (free of cost)," Azad said addressing the 53rd convocation of the International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS) here.

Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) would be roped in for door to door distribution of contraceptives to the end beneficiaries. "With this scheme we hope to provide for the unmet needs, and add to the success of population stabilisation efforts and protect people from HIV/AIDS," he said.

The minister said that 'Empowered Action Group' (EAG) states - Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh - where 45 per cent of India's population resides, had been lagging behind in both fertility and mortality rate declines.

Maintaining that under the newly launched Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, the institutional deliveries will be completely free, he said that government's scheme whereby
women are paid if they deliver child in government hospitals was paying a "good dividend".

Apart from the cash, the women get facilities such as free diagnostic tests (including ultrasound), free consumables and medicines, free provision of blood, diet, and free transport from home and back. "These facilities will also be provided to the sick new-borns for up to 30 days after birth.

Through this, we hope to encourage pregnant women to access government health institutions and boost our efforts to reduce maternal and infant mortality," the minister added.

To fully take the advantage of country's young population, the ministry has decided to launch campaigns against four non-communicable ailments: diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, (paralytic) strokes and cancer.

Azad said that the Union government would be launching a massive 'diagnosis and early detection of diabetes'  programme in the country.

A pilot project, likely to begin in September, will be implemented in around 100 districts, he said.

A pilot project on early detection of cancer has already started.

Talking about the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, in which IIPS's role was crucial, he said, results showed  that 21 per cent of the adult population uses smokeless (chewing) tobacco
and 80 per cent of oral cancer is caused due to it.

Shivraj Patil, Governor of Punjab, said in his convocation address that researchers at IIPS should study the human psychology to understand the  root-causes of the disparity between birthrates of boys and girls.

(Agencies)