There are 253 million adolescents in the age group 10-19 years in India. This age group comprises of individuals in a transient phase of life requiring nutrition, education, counseling and guidance to ensure their development into healthy adults. They are susceptible to several preventable and treatable health problems, like early & unintended pregnancy, unsafe sex leading to STI/HIV/AIDS, nutritional disorders like malnutrition, anemia & overweight, alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, mental health concerns, injuries &violence.
Government of India has recognized the importance of influencing health-seeking behavior of adolescents. The health situation of this age group is a key determinant of India’s overall health, mortality, morbidity and population growth scenario. Therefore, investments in adolescent reproductive and sexual health will yield dividends in terms of delaying age at marriage, reducing incidence of teenage pregnancy, meeting unmet contraception need, reducing the maternal mortality, reducing STI incidence and reducing HIV prevalence. It will also help India realize its demographic dividends, as healthy adolescents are an important resource for the economy.
Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK)
In order to ensure holistic development of adolescent population, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) on 7th January 2014 to reach out to 253 million adolescents - male and female, rural and urban, married and unmarried, in and out-of-school adolescents with special focus on marginalized and undeserved groups . The programme expands the scope of adolescent health programming in India - from being limited to sexual and reproductive health, it now includes in its ambit nutrition, injuries and violence (including gender based violence), non-communicable diseases, mental health and substance misuse. The strength of the program is its health promotion approach. It is a paradigm shift from the existing clinic-based services to promotion and prevention and reaching adolescents in their own environment, such as in schools, families and communities. Key drivers of the program are community based interventions like, outreach by counselors; facility based counselling; Social and Behavior Change Communication; and strengthening of Adolescent Friendly Health Clinics across levels of care.
Adolescent often do not have the autonomy or the agency to make their own decision. RKSK takes cognizance of this and involves parents and community. Focus is on reorganizing the existing public health system in order to meet the service needs of adolescents. Under this a core package of services includes preventive, promotive, curative and counselling services, routine check-ups at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of care is provided regularly to adolescents, married and unmarried, girls and boys during the clinic sessions.
School Health & Wellness Programme
Schools play a critical role in helping students establish lifelong healthy behaviours. Recognizing the importance of this, school based health promotion activities have been incorporated as a part of the Health and Wellness component of the Ayushman Bharat Programme. School Health & Wellness Programme (launched in Feb 2020) is being implemented in government and government aided schools in districts (including aspirational districts). Two teachers, preferably one male and one female, in every school, designated as “Health and Wellness Ambassadors” shall be trained to transact with school children, health promotion and disease prevention information on 11 thematic areas in the form of interesting joyful interactive activities for one hour every week.