ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Demand Side Financing for Reproductive and Child Health Services in India

Currently, reproductive and child health services in India are tax financed and provided through supply side financing mechanisms. Some of the limitations of supply side financing are the inability to target the poor, lack of user choice, and the absence of linkages between provider payments and performance. Hence, there is a need to develop innovative financing mechanisms, which are able to target scarce resources at those who cannot afford to pay. One option is demand side financing. Demand side subsidies are not only better at targeting subsidies to the poor, but by linking subsidies with output, also provide the right incentives for efficiency. This paper discusses the concept of demand side financing and recommends piloting of a competitive voucher scheme as a mechanism for RCH services in India.

T he reproductive and child health programme (RCH), as it has progressed in India over the past five decades has gone through several phases of ideological and strategic change. It started with the introduction of population policies with the aim of reducing the size of population, changed various approaches from the camp approach to the cafeteria approach for controlling/reducing fertility and finally, under the influence of the Budapest and Cairo conferences, saw itself transformed into the present RCH programme. The major components of the programme include the prevention and management of unwanted pregnancy, services to promote safe motherhood including emergency obstetric care, services to promote child survival including essential newborn care, prevention and treatment of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), establishment of an effective referral system, reproductive services for adolescent health, sexuality, gender information, education and counselling.

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