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Need of a Comprehensive National Adolescent Policy for India

  • Ankita Jain
  • Agency : Rapid Program Review (RPR), Mental Health, Tobacco use, Nutrition
  • Objective : To conduct a Rapid Programme Review (RPR) of existing policies and programmes in India focusing on Adolescent’s growth, health and development. To identify the gaps present in the reviewed national policies and programmes. To recommend practical approaches for developing a comprehensive programme to promote health and development among adolescents in India.
  • Background : In spite of definite health problems, it is a common observation that adolescents do not access the existing services. In India there have not been any designated services for this age group so far, leading to substantial unmet service needs. In order to ensure healthy growth they require information and skills; health services and counseling; as well as a safe and supportive environment. Given that their vulnerabilities as a risk group has already been recognized in the national development process, there is an urgent need for safe and enabling environment for their development.
  • Methodology : Rapid Programme Review (RPR) using the tool made by WHO headquarters. Young people (10 – 24 Years) with major focus on Adolescents (10-19 years) were focused. Secondary data collection from various national strategy documents, reports and journal papers were collected. Primary data collection was done by conducting an unstructured interview with various key people of various organizations like WHO SEARO, HRIDAY and PHFI.
  • Findings : The knowledge of the epidemiologic situation in adolescents is fairly good overall. However there are some gaps in 3 A’s (Availability, Accessibility and Affordability) which need to be filled. Regarding Mental Health and Nutrition, many – but not all – proposedactions have been implemented. Useful lessons have been learned by implementing small schemes in rural areas, though the reach of these initiatives has been limited. Lack of adequate resources and inadequate collaboration within the health sector as well as with other sectors were identified by many key informants as a major hindering factor.
  • Recommendations : Document, evaluate and disseminate the experiences gained during implementation of different schemes to encourage others also to adopt the same. Integrate and scale up mental health service initiatives within the existing primary health care system for efficient utilization of services. Strengthen coordination and collaboration within the Ministry of Health, and with other sectors to ensure that a multi-sectoral response is in place. This may be achieved by establishing mechanisms such as a task force and a designated official/unit responsible for adolescent health.