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A New Initiative to Engage Adolescents and Youth of India in Decisions About Their Reproductive Health

New Delhi, Delhi, India:

  • India has the largest cohort of young people in the world, 27.5% of its population or 332 million young people, are between 15-29, yet their sexual and reproductive health remains underserved.
  • Sustainable global progress will not be achieved without meaningful participation of the 1.8 billion young people in the world, 90% of whom come from low- and middle-income countries, like India.
  • Target 3.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls on countries “by 2030, to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.”

Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under its MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership mechanism, announced a new initiative for India, MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership: India-Yash, to engage adolescents and youth in decisions about their reproductive health and wellbeing.

Through this four-year project, MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership: India-Yash will focus on family planning (FP) and reproductive health (RH) for young people and contribute to the achievement of India’s national FP goals. The project will support the FP/RH needs of India’s marginalized youth in urban and rural areas of Assam, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

Young people, aged 15–29 years, make up more than 27.5% of India’s population and, according to the National Youth Policy 2014, contribute about 34% of India’s gross national income. Despite the Sustainable Development Goals for universal access to sexual and RH care services, including FP, by 2030, this cohort of adolescents s underserved when it comes to their sexual and RH needs.

Speaking at the event, Dr. S.K Sikdar, Advisor, FP & MINH, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Government of India said, “I would like to congratulate USAID for partnering the government in undertaking yet another program to achieve the goals of family planning. Over the years, USAID has been instrumental in effecting changes and addressing family planning issues. As per an RBI report, India is growing rapidly annually. Therefore, a lot needs to be done still and we are confident that the Yash program will play a crucial role in the achievement of socioeconomic and environment development goals for sustainable development. At the same time, it is also pertinent to strengthen the strategic partnerships, foster multi-sectoral stakeholder involvement, encourage innovation, mobilize community, and engage actively with the private sector for widespread reach/success of the program.”

Ms Sangita Patel, Director Health Office, USAID/India said, “The United States remains committed to the long-term success of U.S.-India cooperation in the health sector. USAID has decades of experience working with partners and stakeholders, including the public sector, private sector and young people to advance health and wellbeing. Many of our efforts include a specific focus on promoting improved reproductive health and reducing gender-based violence. MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership India-Yash is designed to build upon existing evidence and best practices, as well as to catalyze new ideas and partnerships, using a targeted, contextualized approach. The program also includes a greater focus on building the capacity, sustainability, and resilience of local partner institutions, recognizing that building the technical and organizational capacity of local organizations is necessary to deliver sustainable, evidence-based and quality reproductive health care and voluntary family planning. MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership: India-Yash seeks to foster recognition for the shared interests and mutually reinforcing goals of all stakeholders in the reproductive health space.

Ms. Patel reiterated USAID’s strong ties and partnership with the Government of India and their joint priority to focus on the health and welfare of India’s young people.

The MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership project is led by Jhpiego, a Johns Hopkins University affiliate and partners and will promote adaptation of evidence-based, high-impact interventions and best practices proven in previous USAID investments and will demonstrate innovative models to accelerate improvement in young people’s FP/ RH outcomes.

The private sector will be a key player in this initiative. Speaking about these partnerships, Dr. Somesh Kumar, Country Director, Jhpiego India said, “The project recognizes the importance of strong, multi-sector collaboration to respond to unmet family planning and reproductive health and rights needs of young people, particularly vulnerable youth populations. This project will shift the power dynamics from health market players to clients (young people) and support an enabling environment for adolescent and youth friendly health services.”

To increase demand, MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership: India-Yash will work to improve young people’s knowledge, attitude, practices and service utilization by increasing their agency to demand and access solutions that enable them to make positive FP/RH choices and also improve the accessibility and affordability of quality FP/RH care and products. To address supply, the project will strengthen systems through evidence generation and policy advocacy, strengthen youth-friendly ecosystems by increasing community/policy support for young people’s well-being and strengthen health systems to maintain essential FP/RH services for young people, particularly within the context of COVID-19 and other health emergencies.

By the end of the project, MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership: India-Yash envisions transformed public-private partnerships and investments in the development sector that are more inclusive of adolescents’ and young people’s priorities and an enhanced youth ecosystem in which young people make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) MOMENTUM program works with governments, civil and private sectors, and other key partners to improve access to family planning and reproductive health services and make high-quality health care available to mothers and children so they can live healthy, productive lives. The MOMENTUM design builds on five decades of USAID programming and represents the agency’s most ambitious investment. This integrated design leverages USAID’s maternal, child health, and family planning programs to create more impactful and sustainable change.

MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership is part of the MOMENTUM suite of innovative awards and works in tandem with country governments and local nongovernmental organizations to provide targeted technical and capacity development assistance (TCDA) and contribute to the global technical leadership and policy dialogue on improving measurable outcomes for MNCH/FP/RH care.