Union govt to invest in adolescent health in a big way to make India anemia free

Nandita Vijay, BengaluruSaturday, October 28, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Union government is investing in adolescent health to make the county anemia free. It is in the process of putting in place dedicated, preventive and promotive strategies in schools to make India anemia-free. This is because over 50% adolescents and women in India are anemic.

“Various programmes being run by different Ministries for adolescents need to be integrated for better outcomes. We need to consolidate clinical and public health initiatives for the well-being of adolescents”, said Preeti Sudan, Secretary Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Sudan was addressing the IAAH 11th World Congress on Adolescent Health at New Delhi held first time in India. It is the biggest global event in adolescent health held once every 4 years by the International Association for Adolescent Health.

India has some path breaking legislations on HIV and Mental Health and had a comprehensive National Health Programme for Adolescents, Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), launched in 2014 across 230 districts. The world is home to 1.2 billion adolescents, and India has the largest population of adolescents in the world of which 253 million with every fifth adolescent in the world being an Indian and every second adolescent being an Asian.

According to Dr. Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, anemia is a bigger challenge though much attention is on non-communicable diseases which need to be dealt with urgency. Since youth is India’s future, and the country had to benefit from the demographic dividend, it was important to invest in adolescent health.

Dr Paul recommended setting of specific milestones for the Sustainable Development Goals. This is because the country was also facing a dearth of quality data on adolescents and implementing the ambitious adolescent health programme on the ground was equally tough.

Professor Susan Sawyer, President, International Association for Adolescent Health, said it was for the first time a strategy is in place for women, children and adolescents. Adolescence is a critical time in the growth of an individual, and now was the time to invest in them. India with over 253 million adolescents was significantly investing in adolescents, children, and women, adding that this was the largest meeting of the IAAH with representation from all regions of the world.

There was a strong contingent of young people at the World Congress who can guide us to draft our future policies. He said the participants would learn and share problems, challenges, actions and resources during the deliberations, said Dr. Sunil Mehra, Executive Director, MAMTA Health Institute for Mother and Child.

The World Congress is being organized under the supportive leadership of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. MAMTA Health Institute for Mother and Child (MAMTA) is the lead organisation that is hosting the World Congress with a consortium of partners including Pathfinder International, Population Foundation of India (PFI), Population Services International (PSI), and The YP Foundation. The World Congress also has scientific support from Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI).