Government of India launches new health programme for adolescents


The Government of India launched its National Adolescent Health Strategy during a three-day National Adolescent Health Consultation in Delhi from 7 -9 January. The programme, known as Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), was unveiled by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, and will provide health information and services to meet the diverse needs of adolescents in India.

India is home to 243 million adolescents, constituting 21.4% of the country's population. To enable adolescents to fulfil their potential, substantive investments must be made for their education, health, development and other areas. The new programme is aimed at all adolescents (boys and girls) aged between 10 to 19 years, who live in urban and rural areas; whether married and unmarried; poor and affluent; in school or out of school. It will address such issues as, the limited access of adolescents to accurate health information and socio-economic and gender disparities which restrict access to health care. Other components of the programme target adolescents’ lack of information and detailed knowledge of sexual and reproductive health issues, malnutrition and anaemia, , injuries, violence and communicable and non-communicable diseases. The RKSK builds on the successes and momentum of related initiatives such as India’s landmark Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) scheme.

Speaking at the event, Ms Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary, Government of India and co-chair of The Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health, who was at the helm of the programme, reinforced that adolescents present a unique opportunity to reap the country’s demographic dividends which would not be possible without investing in their health.

India’s RMNCH+A strategy, launched at the India Call to Action, is closely aligned with the Continuum of care approach that is the basis of The Partnership’s work. India has also developed a 5 by 5 RMNCH+A matrix that prioritises 5 high impact essential interventions under each of the 5 areas of the continuum. As Ms. Gupta noted, in order to make a difference in women’s and children’s health, all these interventions need to be implemented together, at the same time, with high coverage and quality, underpinned by strong health systems.

The launch was co-hosted by the Government of India and UNFPA, with several PMNCH partners in attendance, as well as other multilaterals, NGOs, academics, development partners, the private sector and the media. The event highlighted the need for collaboration between partners in support of national health plans and the importance of sharing learnings and global best practices.