USAID and FOGSI spearhead the Pankh Initiative to educate Indian youth on reproductive and sexual health
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light all aspects of health, including reproductive health. Lack of access to contraceptive options during the lockdown is estimated to have caused 2.7 million unintended pregnancies and the disruption induced by COVID-19 continues to erode messages about contraceptives and reproductive health. India is home to the world’s largest population of adolescents and young people aged 10-24. Young people face a limited availability of specific reproductive health information and services that are targeted to them and meet their needs.
The Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), today launched the Pankh Initiative to raise awareness among young people about the issues of reproductive health.
What is the Pankh Initiative?
Pankh, which means “wings” in Hindi, aims to raise awareness of safe sexual behavior and the appropriate use of contraceptives without stigma or judgment. The Initiative will introduce the “Talk Bejhijhak” campaign to facilitate technically accurate and non-judgmental conversations between FOGSI member physicians across India and young people.
FOGSI members will provide a safe environment where young people and adolescents can ask questions about sexual and reproductive health and eliminate jhijhak, the reluctance they often experience when talking to doctors about contraception and sexual health. The campaign will include an anonymous helpline – 1800 258 0001 – where trained counselors can answer questions and help facilitate face-to-face consultations at clinics when needed.
Speaking at the launch event, Dr Amit Shah, USAID / India Deputy Director of Health Bureau, said: “USAID / India has supported many initiatives aimed at advancing the interests of adolescents and youth and address unmet reproductive and family health needs. planning among young people. USAID is proud to join FOGSI in this partnership focused on improving the quality of reproductive health counseling for young people.
At the launch, FOGSI released Guidelines for Adolescent and Youth Friendly Health Services (AYFHS), which will be used by providers as a reference document for the provision of high quality, confidential and non-judgmental services to young people.
Dr S Shantha Kumari, President of FOGSI, added: “Adolescence is one of the most remarkable and distinct phases for men and women, which revolves around physical, psychological, sexual and social issues. Healthy adolescents are the backbone of any country. I am glad that FOGSI has taken steps to change the scenario and set guidelines for AYFHS services. We are pleased that these guidelines have been enriched by technical contributions from senior officials in the Adolescent Health Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India (GOI) ”.
Dr Alpesh Gandhi, outgoing FOGSI President, said: “There needs to be more awareness and that health practitioners are sensitive to the needs of this age group. I applaud all of the FOGSI members who participated in the conceptualization and writing of the AYFHS guidelines. This is an important proactive step, which can be easily adopted by the current health care delivery system. I encourage all FOGSI members to take note of the guidelines and the Pankh Initiative. We look forward to suggestions on what more can be done.
Dr Jaydeep Tank, Project Manager (FOGSI-USAID projects) said: “The Pankh guidelines are in line with the World Health Organization’s global standards for the provision of quality health services and support health services. sexual and reproductive quality. The primary intention is to improve the quality of care in private health services, but they also apply to facilities run by NGOs and the public sector. The ultimate goal of implementing the standards is to increase the uptake of services, especially those related to SRH, in order to contribute to better health outcomes.
Dr Madhuri Patel, Secretary General, said: “In the spirit of SDG 17 which calls for partnerships to achieve development goals, an issue of this scale and complexity requires more partners to take the lead. hand. FOGSI seeks to rally more businesses, foundations, philanthropists, donors and development organizations to expand the Pankh initiative beyond the 4 pilot cities. We urge them to invest in India’s future by ensuring the health and well-being of young people. The cohort of young Indians is large and growing and they must be equipped today with the essential knowledge and support they need to make the right choices and achieve their goals for their future. FOGSI, along with its partners, is working to trigger a dynamic transformation for the country, bringing a productivity dividend and pathways to growth for all. “
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