Empowering adolescents: India launches Saathiya resource kit
Through the peer educators, government aims to connect with nearly 26 crore adolescents, especially in villages, to empower them.
New Delhi: More than 1.5 lakh teenagers are being trained across India to address queries of its 26 crore adolescents on reproductive and sexual health, substance abuse and mental health among other issues concerning their age.
Under its Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram, Union health ministry launched Saathiya resource kit that is specially designed by experts to help peer educators, especially in villages, discuss sensitive issues and answer teenage queries in their community in an informed manner.
India has nearly 26 crore adolescents and there is growing evidence that due to lack of awareness, more and more teenagers are falling victim to unsafe sex practices or substance abuse.
“This age group we wanted to reach out to for a long time, and not just reach but reach with an appropriate strategy,” said CK Mishra, health secretary, who launched the kit on Monday.
One of the key interventions under the programme is introduction of the peer educators (Saathiyas) who are expected to act as a catalyst for generating demand for the adolescent health services and imparting age appropriate knowledge on key adolescent health issues.
“After much deliberation we realised one of the best ways to reach teenagers is through peer educators from within their own community so that they feel comfortable discussing their problems.”
These peer educators have been selected from within the community, and are between the age group of 15 years and 19 years.
The six-day training module will take place in a phased manner, and ministry of health has been working on the training programme for close to a year.
“This is a very ambitious programme, as it is about changing behaviour and thoughts of the adolescent population in a positive way,” said Mishra.
“Adolescents are the critical mass of asset which in future would be the biggest dividends to the country’s economy; thereby their health and wellness are of utmost priority.”
Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) was launched in January 2014, to address and cater to the health and development needs of the country’s adolescents.
RKSK identifies six strategic priorities for adolescents such as nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable diseases, substance misuse, injuries and violence (including gender-based violence) and mental health.