Govt launches 2nd National Strategy for Adolescent Health

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 20 Jun 2017, 00:18:35

Govt launches 2nd National Strategy for Adolescent Health

FE Report

The government launched the 2nd National Strategy for Adolescent Health (NSAH)) 2017-2030 on Monday after it failed to implement the first Adolescent Reproductive Health Strategy (ARHS) for 2006-2016 period.

Four strategic thematic areas have been identified as priority for Bangladesh in the present strategy. These include adolescent sexual and reproductive health, violence against adolescents, adolescent nutrition and mental health of adolescents. Social and behaviour change and health systems strengthening were identified as cross cutting issues, which will contribute to the effective implementation of the thematic areas.

The strategy was launched at a dissemination programme at a city hotel. DGFP, UNFPA, World Health Organisation and Unicef with support from the Netherlands embassy organised the programme.

Health minister Mohammed Nasim was present as the chief guest at the programme.

Director general of family planning department chaired it.

Bangladesh has a significant adolescent population, about one-fifth or 20.5 per cent. In 2011, the adolescent population aged between 10 and 19 years was 30.68 million which increased to 36 million. According to 2015 UNFPA report, both the percentage and absolute number of adolescents will continue to increase until 2021 and will decline by 2031.

Investment in adolescent health will have an immediate and direct impact on Bangladesh's health goals, 3, 4, 5 and 8. The challenges adolescents face, especially girls are not provided with optimal conditions to develop their full potential and ensure their overall health in their transition into adulthood. The challenges are -- structural poverty, lack of access to information and services, negative social norms, inadequate education, social discrimination, child marriage and early child-bearing for adolescent girls. Marginalised adolescents and especially vulnerable because of their living conditions have a set of other challenges which further exacerbate this transitional process.

Mohammed Nasim said child marriage is a major problem here mainly due to poverty, lack of education and social causes which force adolescent girls to get married. To implement this strategy both the health service and family planning staffs have to work together to take the benefit at grassroots level.

Expressing his disappointment over the low budget allocation in health sector, the minister said Bangladesh spends less in health compared to Nepal and Sri Lanka.

He said there are teacher crisis in the medical colleges although the number has gone up to 100. But the government must take steps to keep all the experienced professors in the medical colleges.

"I don't want to see any conflict between health and family planning officials," he added.

The Netherlands ambassador Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere said it is good that Bangladesh government has started investing not only in adolescent education and health, but in other areas too. She suggested ending child marriage and protecting and promoting adolescents rights.

Family welfare division secretary Serajul Islam said necessary investment is required for 36 million adolescents for making them healthy and productive. The first strategy for adolescents was never implemented.

He called for preparation of immediate action plan to effectively implement the present strategy.

Director general of DH health service Dr Abul Kalam Azad said adolescents need information, counselling and other support as they face challenges like abuse, under nutrition.
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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