Consultant: Rajdev Chaturvedi
Data theme: Entitlements, Health and Nutrition
Objective: Improve counseling for adolescents on health and nutrition issues by strengthening existing platforms such as Village Health and Nutrition Days (VHNDs), Adolescent Friendly Health Clinics (AFHCs), and Swasthya Manch (school level).
This strategic intervention organised several meetings and workshops with the community, specifically local adolescents and shared insights and factsheets from the UDAYA survey, reaching out to more than 100 adolescents with information about Weekly Iron Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) and the importance of Iron Folic Acid tablets.
The intervention influenced local officials to organise four Adolescent Health Days, where nearly 100 adolescents received information and entitlements as per the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) program.
The intervention also organised adolescent girls to visit and report on the quality of VHNDs. A letter demanding better service delivery of VHNDs and AFHCs with over 100 signatures from adolescents and members of the community was accepted by the Medical Officer In-Charge, Chief Medical Officer and the RKSK Nodal Officer.
The consultant also organised meetings for the adolescent delegations with various authorities involved in service delivery, like block level service providers, government officials, school principals etc to discuss their needs, suggestions and service availability gaps in both Atrauliya and Ahraula blocks of Azamgarh.
The meetings with the adolescents introduced and discussed the insights from the UDAYA data. Azamgarh has a high rate of malnutrition and the community monitoring exercise revealed multiple reasons for it – anaemia, poverty and lack of access to nutrition as well as early marriage and pregnancy. There was also a gap in service delivery of WIFS, deworming and vaccinations among the adolescents. While there were two AFHCs, the adolescents had only attended a few meetings there. A report was compiled with these findings, and included recommendations for improving service delivery.
The intervention then organised a series of meetings between the adolescents and frontline workers (FLWs) and block level services providers in both blocks to discuss the needs, suggestions and service availability gaps which led to the sanction to organise health camps in four schools in the two selected blocks. Over 100 adolescents attended these health camps, and received information about RKSK, and an activity report was submitted to district level program authorities to regularise this platform in all blocks.
Alongside, a signature campaign was conducted to request better service delivery for adolescent health issues. Data insights and recommendations from the community monitoring were shared with members of the community, especially adolescents, women and youth. The signature campaign was hugely successful, as the demand letter was endorsed not only by the local community, but also staff associated with the hospital and AHFCs. Over 100 people signed the demand letter issued by the adolescents. The letter with recommendations was formally accepted by block level officials. A youth delegation also visited the District Program Manager – National Health Mission office, where the adolescents presented their needs, gaps and recommendations. A similar presentation and discussion also took place at the District Health Society to raise the issues emerging. The recommendations submitted were accepted at the District Health Society meeting. Follow up visits are required to ensure that the recommendations are incorporated in the quarterly plan for implementation.
COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns hugely hampered the efforts of this intervention. All resources – including financial and human, were diverted towards managing the rate of COVID-19 infections. While officials were willing to support the adolescents’ demands and recommendations, the state level authorities are yet to sanction anything.