Summit to focus on adolescent health

India will launch a strategic roadmap with focus on adolescent health at the upcoming national meet on “India’s Call to Action: Child Survival and Development Summit” in Tamil Nadu later this week.

Entitled “Strategic Approach to Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A),” the meet is aimed at accelerating reductions in preventable child deaths through sharper national plans and improved monitoring and evaluation.

“It will engage with all partners to arrive at actionable goals and commitments for high-burden States aimed to reduce the deaths of children from preventable causes,” Anuradha Gupta, Additional Director and Mission Director National Rural Health Mission, told reporters here on Monday.

Though the child mortality rate in India has dropped by almost 50 per cent since 1990, it is still among the top four nations that account for 50 per cent of global under-five mortality.

India accounts for the largest number of under-five deaths — nearly 1.5 million, of which close to 0.8 million die within 28 days of birth.

Ms. Gupta said neonatal mortality was very high in the country. “The big step forward for the summit is sharing of strategic approach,” she said. The strategy is to develop peer educators who can give out “very critical information” to adolescent girls through counselling so that when they get married they will have “very good understanding of basic things” such as birth control.

The government will unveil a national iron plus initiative targeting 13 crore adolescent girls. A strategy for strengthening the nursing profession will also be launched at the summit.

During 2005-10, India’s decline in under-five mortality rate has accelerated to an average of 7.5 per cent each year. Even though the average under-five mortality rate has been always lower in urban areas, the rate of decline has been much faster.

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