Health

Adolescents, youth speak out on health in pan-India survey

Image for representational purpose only.

Image for representational purpose only.   | Photo Credit: AFP

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36% of over 1 lakh respondents say improved health information and services are their top concern

Health is a top priority for adolescents and youth in the country, but means far more than just illnesses and includes enabling factors like education, job opportunities, environment and socio-economic conditions, finds a pan-India survey.

The survey, called ‘Youthbol’ (voice of the youth) was conducted across 27 States and four Union Territories and recorded responses from 1,10,092 voices from three different age groups — 10 to 14 years; 15 to 19 years; and 20 to 24 years, on their top priorities regarding their health and well-being. The responses were collected on-ground as well as through an online platform and then analysed over a 10-month period between January and October 2019. They were then recorded under eight different themes. The exercise was conducted by the Centre for Catalysing Change along with 31 grassroots partners.

Reproductive health

Almost 40,000 or 36% of the total respondents said that improved health information and services were their top concern. Within health, the availability of services as well as information for better sexual and reproductive health and rights, is regarded as important by this segment of the population. There was also demand for better information and methods for managing menstrual pain, and free access to medication for such pain in school and village health centres. Those surveyed also expressed a need for better information on sex and sexuality, information and services on HIV, and access to contraceptive methods and family planning services.

Substance abuse

Substance abuse was also an important issue on which respondents wanted more awareness, including information on the misuse of unconventional items like paint thinners, correction fluid (whiteners) and Vicks. Youth also demanded information and services for mental health and ways to cope with academic pressure, peer-pressure and bullying. Young people spoke about experiencing issues around depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.

Under the theme of health, respondents also sought awareness on the benefits of exercise and physical activity to fight non-communicable diseases.

Young India

“India has a huge population of young people. This 35 crore strong segment can have immense power in determining the future of this country. India’s youth need to have a say in designing health policies and schemes that are primarily meant for them. We must ensure that youth voices are included in the process of designing policies, programmes and schemes that impact them and help shape their lives. YouthBol is an attempt to enable this,” Dr. Aparajita Gogoi, Executive Director, Centre for Catalysing Change (C3), explained the objective behind the survey, the findings of which were made public last week.

In-school services

After health, the next big demand was for in-school services with as many as 28,000 respondents seeking better infrastructure such as clean toilets, computers, libraries, playgrounds, open spaces, sports equipment, etc. The respondents also linked their health and well-being with access to better quality education and sought better teachers and counsellors, access to extra-curricular activities, and information on life skills like decision-making, problem-solving, conflict resolution and effective communication to be a part of their curriculum. They said they would like to have regular health check-ups, access to nurses, doctors and counsellors, etc., within the school premises.

Clean surroundings, water and air and proper municipal garbage disposal facilities emerged as the third-most important concern for the youth. As far as nutrition is concerned, adolescents and young adults wanted an improvement in institutional delivery of food through anganwadis and mid-day meal at schools. They demanded that the latter be made available until Class XII.

Gender equity

As many as 8,400 responses centred on gender equity and access to information on gender, gender -based discrimination, gender identity and sexual orientation, ways to prevent violence, harassment, child abuse, child labour and sexual violence, and government programmes available for survivors of different forms of abuse.

On the basis of this pan-India study, C3 has prepared a charter of seven demands, which include access to information and youth-friendly services on sexual and reproductive health, better quality education and school infrastructure, end to stigma on mental health and all forms of inequality, among others.

Ms. Gogoi said this charter, along with the findings of the survey, would be shared with NGOs working with young children, parents, and policy-makers.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 10:30:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/adolescents-youth-speak-out-on-health-in-pan-india-survey/article29872046.ece

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