Nearly 5.5 crore unintended pregnancies, 18 lakh unsafe abortions and 30,000 maternal deaths were averted as a result of contraceptive use in 2019, Union Health Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday.
Vardhan, while chairing a virtual meeting on the occasion of World Population Day, also said that this was achieved due to substantial investment in the family planning programme.
He emphasised that the strategy of putting family planning at the core has helped to achieve remarkable results, the health ministry said in a statement.
During the meeting, the minister also highlighted the success of the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health Plus Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) services programme.
Vardhan noted that these efforts have taken India closer to reaching the replacement fertility level of 2.1. Twenty-five out of the 36 states and union territories have already achieved replacement fertility level, he said.
"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)," Vardhan was quoted as saying in the statement.
"The teenage fertility has halved from 16 (NFHS-III) to 7.9 (NFHS-IV)," he said.
Commemorating World Population Day is important as it emphasises the importance of population stabilisation and its vital role in the future of the masses and their health, the minister said.
"It is even more critical now to recognise the importance of providing reproductive health services due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic," Vardhan said.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's commitment to the Swachh Bharat Mission, which transformed into a social movement, he urged everyone to make the population stabilisation mission an equally powerful people's movement, the statement said.
The health minister emphasised that family planning provides dignity to women, especially who are poor and marginalised.
This needs to therefore be the cornerstone of efforts for gender equality, maternal and child health, poverty alleviation and propagation of human rights, Vardhan said.
He said India is a fundamental part of the global FP2020 movement and the government of India has invested substantial domestic funding to achieve the ambitious Family Planning (FP) 2020's goals.
The major initiatives under family planning include Mission Parivar Vikas, Injectable Contraceptive MPA, Family Planning- Logistics Management Information System and Family Planning Communications Campaign.
The National Family Planning Program has introduced injectable contraceptive in the public health system under the 'Antara' programme. This contraceptive is highly effective and will meet the changing needs of couples and help women space their pregnancies, Vardhan said.
"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 said.
The health minister also released the AB-HWC mobile application developed by Ministry of Health.
The app is designed to streamline the process of data reporting at Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres, the health ministry's statement said.
It is an extension of the AB-HWC portal, which is already used by states, districts and HWC facilities, to report data pertaining to service utilisation 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 primary health centres, the statement said.
Noting that COVID-19 has imposed additional responsibilities on frontline healthcare workers, Vardhan praised them for their tireless services towards COVID-19 and also to ensure that non-COVID essential services are not adversely affected.