The Bihar government has launched a major health initiative to stabilise population and train adolescents on reproductive health and family planning in several Naxalite affected blocks in Magadh zone. The scheme was launched in Gaya targetting one lakh adolsecents, officials said.
Executive director of the State Health Society Sanjay Kumar confirmed to HT, that Bihar has tied up with Pathfinder International for this key programme, which would involve young in the age group of 15 to 19 on reproductive health issues.
Kumar is also the chairman of the steering committee of the project.
“During the three-day training programme, adolescents would be given useful information on lifecycle changes, including puberty and menstruation, delaying the first pregnancy and spacing the second birth,” said the ED, adding that the young girls and boys are also educated about reproductive tract infections (RTI) and sexually transmitted diseases (STD), including HIV/AIDS.
He said, the purpose of the exercise was not only to train them but also to make them fit enough to train others. Similarly, the accredited social health activists (ASHA) were also being trained on how to communicate with the target group with regard to RH issues, he added.
Detailing the programme, the project leader of the Pathfinder International’s PRACHAR phase-III, Binod Bihari Singh, said that till date, 80,980 adolescents, 45,767 of them girls, have been trained in the 10 identified blocks, including Sherghati, Mohanpur, Fatehpur and Ghuraran. The rest of the adolescents would be trained in phases, he said.
Around 1300 ASHAs and 176 male communicators were also imparted training on the subject.
The target groups included newlyweds, couples without children and couples with one child. Both men and women were approached simultaneously to address issues regarding behavior change, as men played a major role in decision making in contraceptive use and fertility, said Binod. “The task is stupendous, as we have to work with different communities and under adverse circumstances,” he added.
In a nutshell, the prime object of the programme is to educate and empower the adolescents to take command of their reproductive health and rights. Also, it was to develop the capacity of grassroots level NGO workers, frontline state health workers, trainers and communicators.
“This is a pilot project and on the basis of its performance, the scheme may be extended to other districts in Bihar,” he said.
The country representative of the Pathfinder International, Dr Rema Nanda said, the adolescents had been focused purposefully, as early intervention would have a greater impact on reproductive health of the youngsters. “Also, they occupy a significant chunk of the population in Bihar and their education would make the difference,” said Reema.