India’s teenage pregnancies, child marriages cause concern: Vardhan

NEW DELHI: Ongoing levels of teenage pregnancies and child marriages in certain pockets across the country is a cause for great concern and taking sexual and reproductive health services out of the clinics to India’s 25 crore adolescent population will be the way forward, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan affirmed here on Saturday.
Scaling up best practices to address adolescent sexual and reproductive health amidst the continued challenges of early marriage, teenage pregnancy, anemia and high incidence of maternal mortality were discussed at the workshop.
Titled, “Investing in Adolescent Health: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend,” the workshop brought together multiple stakeholders including NITI Aayog, State Governments, UN Agencies and international and multilateral agencies to commit to accelerate the progress of adolescent health and development.
In his inaugural address, Dr Vardhan asserted that with 25 crore adolescents, India comprises of a high proportion of individuals in a transient phase of life that requires nutrition, education, counseling and guidance to ensure their development into healthy adults.
This group, Dr Vardhan said, is also susceptible to avoidable health problems including early & unintended pregnancy, unsafe sex leading to STI/HIV/AIDS, nutritional disorders besides malnutrition, anemia & overweight, alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, mental health concerns, injuries & violence.
The workshop brought together 120 delegates, including 30 speakers, from multiple stakeholders such as state governments, not-for-profit organisations, think tanks, UN Agencies and international and multilateral agencies.
Speakers focused on the need for a comprehensive multi-sectoral approach to address the challenges on the ground.
Existing initiatives around adolescent health need to be streamlined according to the requirements on the ground, the speakers affirmed adding that Indian government’s recent move to review the programme design of the Integrated Child Development Services is welcome, and should be tried within adolescent health too.
Jointly organised by the Observer Research Foundation and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the workshop deliberated over the goals and challenges of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram and discussed success stories and innovative solutions from states across India.