On the ninth of every month, around three crore pregnant women in the country will get ante-natal care packages and free check-ups by specialists across the country, reported The Indian Express. The National Democratic Alliance government announced Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritwa Yojana only 13 days after Narendra Modi suggested it at a public meeting in Saharanpur. Before this, there were two schemes – Janani Suraksha Yojana and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram – that catered to new mothers.

“Can my doctor friends do one thing? On the 9th of every month, if any poor pregnant women comes to them, they should give her free treatment. Our poor mothers sometimes die during childbirth. If our doctors give 12 days in 12 months to the cause — the 9th of every month – no doctor will suffer a major loss. If people can give up gas subsidy, doctors can also give 12 days to poor mothers,” Modi had said.

The scheme is meant to help tackle the high maternal mortality rate, which was 174 per 1,00,000 live births in 2015. The government kicked off the programme on June 9 in 14 states – Bihar, Chattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.