Bhawanipatna, Odisha: Regional Consultation on the Status of Adolescent Health

Between January-March 2019, we are partnering with young advocates across India and The Population Foundation of India to develop adolescent and youth-friendly guidelines through six regional consultations. These consultations have been strongly focused on bringing together fragmented voices & efforts across and among young people working on adolescent health. The six consultations were in Nawada, Imphal, Bhopal, Kalahandi, Delhi and Mumbai, and will culminate in a national consultation in New Delhi.

Bhawanipatna, Odisha:

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The main objectives of the consultation were to develop a collective understanding of the present context of youth SRHR and Adolescent Health in the region; to examine strengths, challenges and opportunities for convergences across various active SRHR and Adolescent Health Interventions in the region, and to frame recommendations for different stakeholders towards advancing SRHR and Adolescent Health needs of young people.

27 participants joined the Consultation from three regions of Odisha ( Kalahandi, Behrampore, Baudh, Ganjam and Mayurbhanj) West Bengal (Kolkata and 24 South Pargana) and Chhattisgarh (Raipur and Bilaspur). The participants were between 19-30 years and came from different CSOs including Swasthya Swaraj, Rupantaran Foundation and ARUNA (Association for Rural Upliftment and National Allegiance), YCDA (Youth Council for Development Alternatives) and CINI (Child In Need Institute). TYPF and PFI will be raising the emergent recommendations at the national consultation.

At this regional consultation, youth advocates articulated state-specific demands across multiple issues relating to adolescent health. This consultation saw a significant focus on tribal communities’ health and health-related issues, including infrastructural shortcomings and policy implementation gaps. Affordability of health services was a concern that was raised across by representatives from all three states, apart from issues such as early child marriage, paucity of human resources such as doctors and counsellors, teen pregnancies, and lack of information.

In the role of the facilitator, TYPF supported the youth advocates to refine their recommendations and streamline their dialogue with the government representatives. Recommendations were organised across the 6 themes of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram in order to provide a more compelling argument for addressing them. Framing the discussion along these themes also strengthens the need for an intersectional and holistic approach to adolescent health.