India: Condoms coming to a hut near you

The World

India will begin door-to-door distribution of condoms and birth control pills to villagers nationwide this year, following the success of a limited launch in select districts.

The Times of India reports:

The programme was initially launched in 233 districts of 17 states and became a roaring success in a year, helping women get access to emergency contraceptives and oral pills right at their doorstep.

Under the programme, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) were supplied contraceptives for free.

ASHAs then went from door to door selling them for Re 1 for a pack of three condoms, Re 1 for a cycle of oral contraceptive pills and Rs 2 for one tablet of an emergency contraceptive - the earning being their commission. India has 870,000 ASHAs.

 "There is a need for contraceptives yet it is difficult for couples to get them, thanks to social and financial barriers," the paper quoted National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) director Anuradha Gupta as saying.

"We conducted three independent reviews of the pilot project in 233 districts and found it to be successful, specially for women. Our intention is to make contraceptives available at the doorstep of the most backward villager. Contraceptives lie in health centres but sometimes they are so far that women have to walk miles to get there. This affects uptake."

Sounds like a good program, but I wonder how many of these condoms get diverted to markets before an ASHA can ever lay eyes on them.