'Adolescent Mothers Prone to Poor Health'
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14 May 2010
Malnutrition, anaemia and deprivation of extra–nutritional requirements compound health risks during pregnancy for girls who marry in their adolescence.
This subject came up for discussion at a two–day regional conference held at the Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (Yashada) in the city on Thursday. Organised by the Population Foundation of India (PFI), the theme of the conference was “Health, Population and Social Development–Issues of Western States –Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan”.
“The reproductive health of married adolescents in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan is in a critical condition. In a state like Rajasthan, of which 22 per cent population is adolescent, more than 50 per cent girls get married before they attain the age of 18,” said A R Nanda, former Union secretary of Health and Family Welfare Ministry, and presently executive director of PFI, New Delhi.
“More than 70 per cent girls in the 10 to 19 year age category suffer from severe or moderate anaemia. Adolescent mothers are at a higher risk of miscarriages, maternal mortality and giving birth to stillborn and underweight babies,” said Nanda.
Nanda recommended that to tackle the problem, deciding the age at marriage is of vital importance. Besides, scaling up adolescent reproductive health services and enhancing the demand generation activities for adolescents will also be beneficial, added Nanda.
“The case of Gujarat and Maharashtra is similar to that of Rajasthan. On the child nutrition front, it was felt that the government and other players need to bring together diverse stakeholders from government, business, civil society organisations and experts to form a cross–sectoral alliance that is deeply committed to co–creating solutions to address an incessant development issue of child malnutrition,” said Arundhati Mishra, additional director of PFI. There is a need to reach larger geographical areas and integrate the learning into government health and nutrition programmes, she added.
A session was held on community action under the National Rural Health Mission, included presentations on the pilot effort of community monitoring in Maharashtra, Village Health and Sanitation Committees (VHSC) –Emerging Issues and Concerns, and ‘Access to healthcare and micro insurance through women’s co–operatives’.
“There is need for adequate training facilities at peripheral areas for capacity building of members of VHSC,” said Mishra.
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