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UP Family Planning Agency's Anuradha Johari
"The postmen are trusted by the rural communities"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Condoms with the daily post
Children in a village school
India urgently needs to curb its growing population
Postmen in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh may soon deliver condoms and family planning advice along with the mail.

The state's Innovation in Family Planning Service Agency (SIPSA) has enlisted the help of 400 postmen in Agra and Ferozabad districts to create awareness about family planning.

They would be counselling people, talking about why people need to have small families, really assessing what the requirements are and providing condoms and pills

SIPSA chief Anuradha Johari
SIPSA chief Anuradha Johari told the BBC that the postman is a trusted person in rural communities and people may find it easier to communicate with him on a personal issue.

"People in rural areas are hesitant to talk about these things," she said. "So it's important that there's somebody whom they trust talk to them about these matters."

Most populous state

Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous state - with about 170m inhabitants - but only 5m people are believed to use contraceptives.

Experts blame this on the lack of awareness among rural communities about contraception methods - something which the SIPSA wants to change.

The 400 selected postmen will given special training and re-orientation for their new responsibilities.

"They would be counselling people, they would talking more and more about why people need to have small families, really assessing what the requirements are and providing condoms and pills," said Ms Johari.

However, the postmen will not be providing any clinical services.

population clock in India
A clock showing India's current population
"They will only function as an outreach to the health workers, not be a substitute to them."

For their additional responsibilities, each postman would be paid a monthly honorarium of $2.2, plus another $2.2 for meeting targets.

The targets, though, haven't been fixed as yet.

Population concern

India's population touched the one billion mark on May 11.

If the present trends continue, the population could reach 1.25 billion by 2016.

India could surpass China as the world's most populous country by the middle of this century.

A concerned Indian government has set up a National Commission on Population to co-ordinate efforts on family planning and as well as Uttar Pradesh, various other states are initiating their own family planning programmes.

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See also:

22 Jul 00 | South Asia
India tackles population boom
11 May 00 | South Asia
India hits the billion mark
01 Jul 99 | World population
Population pressure and conflict
12 Oct 99 | World population
World population: Special report
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