Speaking at the Global Health Policy Forum Summit in London, the Minister said around 11 million pregnant women in India benefited through institutional deliveries last year after the scheme, compared to only 700,000 during 2005.
Azad informed the meet that over 43 million pregnant women and children are registered under another innovative scheme of telephone-based mother and child tracking system, aimed at ensuring timely delivery of pregnant women and monitoring of services to them.
Talking about the safe motherhood incentive scheme to eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for both pregnant women and sick neonates, Azad said "institutional deliveries have increased from 47 per cent in 2007-08 to 60.5 percent in 2010."
He said while free to and fro transport between home and health institution is being provided to pregnant women by the central government, free diagnostics and tests, medicines, food and cesarean section are also being provided under various schemes. He said sick newborns will be provided the same initiatives up to 30 days after birth.
The ministry has also taken steps to address reproductive, sexual health and nutritional needs of adolescents as a means to improve maternal and child healthcare, Azad said.
"Under a unique initiative, probably the first of its kind in the world, community health workers are promoting birth spacing through awareness and door to door distribution of contraceptives.
The challenge of nutrition is being addressed at the highest levels," Azad said.
"The Prime Minister's Nutrition Council is working vigorously on a multi-sectoral plan to improve overall nutritional status of women and children. Our efforts to control anaemia now encompass adolescent boys and girls in addition to children and pregnant and lactating mothers."
Azad said "For India, the challenge is particularly formidable considering that, though we are the second most populous country in the world, we have the largest number of pregnancies at 27 million and an annual birth cohort of 26 million babies".