Adolescent girls in India are given little information about the changes that are normal to experience physically, emotionally, and socially when transitioning from childhood to adolescence. Giving adolescent girls the opportunity to ask questions, find their voice, and understand their feelings lead to the self-confidence they need in order to become powerful women.
Despite successful programs in the rural region of Madhya Pradesh, India that address malnutrition and health promotion, there exists a gap in that nothing is specific to adolescent girls. Real Medicine & Nutrition Trust, an affiliate of Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) works closely with the district administration to identify suitable government schools where we could do pilot workshops with the enrolled adolescent girls about puberty, health, hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and their overall wellbeing.
Also, as many girls approach their childbearing years, it is important to empower them with health literacy related to pregnancy and motherhood. In Madhya Pradesh, India, pregnancy & safe motherhood related figures are staggering:
· 84.9% of children, 6-35 months old, that are living in rural areas are anemic.
· 70% of pregnant women suffer from iron and protein deficiencies, increasing their chances of having low birth weight babies.
· Only 53.8% of pregnant women have received any ANC care.
· Only 27.62% of pregnant women received 3 or more ANC checkups.
· Only 38.36% women delivered in a facility.
· 42.57% suffered from complications during delivery.
· Only 48.03% sought treatment for complications during pregnancy.
· Only 47.78% sought treatment for post-delivery complications.
By educating adolescent girls in the community, RMF hopes to combat these numbers by empowering girls to help their families seek the care they need. In addition, when they have their own families, these girls will have a head start on health with their new knowledge.
RMF believes in the human ability to transform — that the people in developing and disaster stricken areas are most capable of creating solutions to their unique challenges. Therefore, we employ, train and educate locals, producing innovative solutions and strong communities that sustain and grow health care capacity by enlisting cutting edge technology and modern best practices. We ignite the potential of the people we are supporting — turning aid into empowerment and victims into leaders. Our goals are always to save lives, and liberate the creative capacity of the communities. We believe first and foremost in Liberating Human Potential.
Highlights of the Adolescent Girls Health Initiative, Madhya Pradesh, India
- Program roll-out has started in 3 districts of Alirajpur, Barwani and Khandwa in the Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh, India.
- A 2-day residential refresher training of trainers has been conducted.
- 15 Community Nutrition Educators (CNEs), 3 District Coordinators (DCs) & 1 Project Manager has been oriented & trained through a refresher training program.
- Training sessions include introductory sessions on life cycle approach, adolescents’ health, reproductive health, safe drinking water, diarrhea management, anemia, hygiene & sanitation.
- A system of daily reporting from the DCs to the Project Manager and further on, is in place to ensure regular flow of information.
- The DCs’ & CNEs’ efforts are being appreciated by school teachers & school administrative staff for their valuable inputs to their girl students.
- “Such education & awareness sessions should be organized for all the adolescent girls and should cover all high schools in the region”, — Barwani district government school teacher.
- CNEs are also tracking malnourished children in our specific villages.
Quantitative coverage so far:
- RMF’s target is to reach out to 1,500 in-school adolescent girls in 3 districts to educate on adolescent health on a pilot basis.
- 57 schools in 3 districts of the Nimar Region in Madhya Pradesh, India have been mapped out for this project.
- 241 girls in Alirajpur, 490 in Khandwa, and 550 in Barwani have been trained by mid-August 2015.
- 3 fortnightly program review meetings have been conducted.
RMF’s outreach workers (Community Nutrition Educators, CNEs) for our Malnutrition Eradication Program cover 600 villages and counsel pregnant and lactating women on their diet and care in addition to the mothers and families of malnourished children. The counseling of adolescent girls however remains a critical gap in the community, both in general reproductive health as well as nutrition. Since malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh does not exist in a vacuum, RMF’s team in India in 2012 started thinking of ways to reach these girls.
- Conduct workshops at 50 schools, reaching approximately 1,500 students.
- Distribute brochures and pamphlets on adolescence, nutrition, and maternal health to 1,500 adolescent girls.
- Train an RMF staff of 50 on adolescence and other topics for school workshops.
- What is Adolescence?
- The Changes in Adolescence – Physical, Emotional, Psychological and Social
- Iron Deficiency – Anemia
- Diet in Adolescence – Importance of Diet
- Menstrual Cycle – Misconceptions
- Personal Hygiene