Adolescent Health Kerala – Policy to Action

Dr.MKC Nair

IAP National President – 2004 

 

Adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years form about 25% of the population. In the absence of National or State Adolescent Care Policy, they do not have easy access to any care facility. The low mortality among adolescents apart from accidents and suicides has prevented us from realizing that there are many important physical problems that bother adolescents like body image issues, under nutrition, obesity, asthma, recurrent respiratory infections, goiter, skin disorders, dysmenorrhoea and other menstrual problems. At present the health care system in Kerala mainly take care of emergencies and serious illnesses and do not focus on adolescent friendly preventive health services.

 

It is in this context that the Unicef supported Adolescent project was initiated with Child Development Centre as the nodal agency and involving all major stakeholders. The project then initiated the following steps in order to bring about adequate changes in policy actions.

 

·     Sensitization of Public/Parents/Teachers, NGO Groups & Adolescents

·     Facilitation of sustained media interest for adolescent related programs

 

·     Training of Doctors, Nurses, Community Health Workers, Anganwadi workers.

 

·     Assessing the burden of adolescent problems through pilot studies on adolescent needs, growth status, perceived problems, psychological problems, scholastic problems, depression, sexual abuse, use of alcohol & tobacco, substance abuse, unhealthy sexual practices, hygiene practices and other morbidity patterns.

 

·      Preparation of Family Life Education (FLE) Training Modules like CDC Trainer’s Training Module, IAP Manual, FLE module for schools (Minus-2 to Plus-2) and Journal of Teenage Care & Pre-marital Counseling (TEENS)

 

·     Design of Adolescent Health Card covering age group of 10-19 years.

 

·     Adolescent Care Counseling Clinics at Medical Colleges, First Referral Units and Private Hospitals.

 

·     Formation of Teen Clubs in Panchayath ward wise, Residents’ Associations, School Health / Adolescent Clubs.

 

·     Celebration of Events - Teen Week, Teenage Day (1st of Aug.) & Teen Fest.

 

The Family Life Education concepts and Adolescent Care Counseling facilities were introduced in the following major state wide programs

 

·      World Bank supported ICDS Phase-III Project: Under the innovative programs head, Diploma in Clinical Child Development (DCCD) holders from CDC are posted in all 13 districts of Kerala to conduct FLE classes for Adolescents, Mothers & Anganawadi workers.

 

·        Reproductive and Child Health Program (RCH): Adolescent Care Clinics are being established in all First Referral Units in Kerala.

 

·        Panchayath model for Adolescent Care: With Unicef support a comprehensive model for adolescent care is being established at Kudappanakkunu Panchayath.  

 

·        School based Adolescent Care Model: With the support of District Panchayath, a comprehensive model for adolescent care is being established by CDC at all High Schools in 78 Grama Panchayaths of Thiruvananthapuam Districts.

 

·        School based Adolescent Care Model: With the technical support of CDC,  Corporation of Thiruvananthapuram is to establish a comprehensive model for adolescent care at all High Schools with in the Corporation Area.

 

·        Indian Academy of Pediatrics has committed itself to look after children upto 18 years of age and will be celebrating 2004 as IAP year of Adolescents.

 

·        In order to create a cadre of trained personnel, the University of Kerala, in collaboration with CDC have initiated the following distance education programs;

Ř      Post Graduate Diploma in “Adolescent Pediatrics”

Ř      Post Graduate Diploma in “Child Adolescent and Family Counseling”

Ř      Post Graduate Diploma in “Early Child Care Survival Growth & Development (ECC-SGD)”