Pilot project in Maharashtra sets example for health ministry

August 21st, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) After the success of the Safe Adolescent Transition and Health Initiative (SATHI) pilot project in Maharashtra, the ministry of health has decided to look into scaling up of this project into other states as well.After a presentation and workshop on the project by director of Health Services, Maharashtra, Prakash Doke, in the capital Thursday, Amarjit Sinha, joint secretary in the health ministry, said the ministry would be happy to scale up the intervention even though health is a state subject.

“There is need to give focused attention to specific problems of various vulnerable groups like married adolescent girls. The ministry could give the guidelines so that the married adolescent programme could be implemented within the existing health system like the National Rural Health Mission,” Sinha said.

SATHI, a three-year project, which was implemented between 2003-06 by the Directorate of Health Services, Maharashtra in collaboration with the Institute of Health Management, Pachod (IHMP) showed that maternal mortality and post natal morbidity resulting from early conception can be avoided by making sexual and reproductive health services available to married adolescent girls.

Significant behavioural change at the individual and household levels, the study found, was also important.

Married adolescent girls, who are mostly below the age of 20, account for 26 percent of the total fertility rate of the state of Maharashtra.

After the three-year intervention in 10 districts of the state, it was seen that the age of marriage of adolescent girls in the state went up from 16 years to 17 years and there was a delay in the first conception by one year - from 17 year to 18 years.

Ashok Dyalchand, director of IHMP said: “The most important demographic change was that the delay had in turn reduced the percentage of low birth babies from 35 per cent to 25 per cent in rural areas and from 27.5 per cent to 18.8 percent in urban areas.

“Further, a significant achievement was the increase in contraception use from 10.9 per cent to 23 per cent in rural areas and from 8 to 30 per cent in urban areas”.

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