Adoloscent Reproductive and Sexual Health Crash Strategy (Under NRHM/RCH II)

India’s Population today is over One Billion. Adolescent’s in the age group of 10-19 years making up one fifth (1/5th) of the population. A large number of them are out of schools, get married early, work in vulnerable situations; are sexually active and are exposed to peer-pressure. These factors have serious social, economic and public health implications.

Adolescents are not a homogeneous group. Their situation varies by age, sex, marital status class, religion, and culture context. This calls for interventions that are flexible and responsive to their desperate needs.

Some of the public health challenges for adolescents include pregnancy, excess risk of maternal and mortality, sexually transmitted and Reproductive tract infections and the rapid by rising incidence of HIV in this age group. Thus it is important to influence the health-seeking behaviour of adolescents as their situation will be central in determining India’s health, mortality and morbidity and the population growth scenario.

The goals of the Government of India RCH II programme are reduction IMR, MMR and TFR. In order to achieve these goals, RCH II has four technical strategies. One of these is Adolescent Health. Strategy for ARSH has been approved as part of the RCH II National Programme Implementation Plan (PIP). This strategy focuses on reorganizing to meet the service need of adolescents. Steps are to be taken to ensure improved service delivery for adolescents during routine sub centre clinics and ensure service availability on fixed days and timings at the PHC and CHC levels. This is to be in tune with outreach activities. A core package of services includes Preventive, Promotive, Curative and Counselling Services.

Further, addressing adolescents will yield dividends in terms of delaying age at marriage, reducing incidence of teenage pregnancy, prevention and Management of obstetric complications including access to early and safe abortion services and reduction of unsafe sexual behaviour.

Since service provisions for adolescents are influenced by many factors, wherein for e.g. at the level of health system, Lack of adequate privacy, confidentiality and judgmental attitudes of service providers; who often lack counselling skills are barriers that limit access to services.

Health care staffs needs to be sensitive to signs of anxiety and know how to deal with young people in crisis or where to refer them. Services also need to include information and Education to help adolescents to become active participants in their own health.

So, investing in this group (10-19 years) is going to have rich dividend for the future health.

This programme is to introduce and orient health care providers to the Special Characteristics of adolescents and the appropriate approaches to address selected priority health needs and problems of adolescents.