17,000 schoolchildren to be peer educators in Bihar under national adolescent programme
Peer educators will be trained in six thematic areas — nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, non-communicable diseases, violence/gender-based violence and substance misuse.patna Updated: Nov 23, 2017 13:47 IST
The Bihar government will rope in 17,000 schoolchildren, in 10-19 years age group, as peer educators (PEs), to address issues of adolescents.
The idea of drafting schoolchildren as PEs under the national Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram is to allow adolescents feel comfortable in sharing with PEs the problems they encounter while growing up.
The PEs will work under the overall guidance of auxiliary nursing midwives (ANM), who will play the role of facilitators. They will be trained in six thematic areas — nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, non-communicable diseases, violence/gender-based violence and substance misuse.
“Children, especially girls, feel uncomfortable talking to elders about vaginal discharge or the changes in them when they attain puberty. The PEs will educate and counsel them. If need be, they will refer them to health facilities,” said state programme officer Dr YN Pathak of the State Health Society, Bihar.
“The PEs are expected to form a group of 15-20 boys and girls from their community and engage children in one-two hour playful participatory sessions weekly. They will also participate in adolescent health day – once every quarter — to educate young people and involve parents as well,” he added.
The PEs will be selected among children in 10-19 years age group, who show leadership qualities. Each accredited social health activists (ASHA) of the selected health sub-centre will select four PEs — two girls and boys each. ASHA will facilitate to organise a community meeting attended by parents, panchayat representatives, school teachers, anganwadi workers, ANMs and community members in which PEs will be selected with community consent.
“There is no monetary incentive for PEs since it’s a voluntary service. However, to motivate them, we will give some non-monetary benefits such as T-shirt, bag, cap, etc.,” added Pathak.
Under the national programme, initiated in 2014, Bihar has to select 17,280 PEs. Of this, 16,229 have been selected, but only 6,722 trained.
To begin with, 10 high-priority districts — Gaya, East Champaran, Purnia, Katihar, Kishaganj, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Jamui, Araria and Saharsa — considered low on adolescent health parameters, have been selected in the pilot phase in Bihar.