India’s Health Ministry has launched the SAATHIYA Resource Kit including ‘Saathiya Salah’ Mobile App for adolescents, as part of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) program.
One of the key interventions under the programme is introduction of the Peer Educators (Saathiyas) who act as a catalyst for generating demand for the adolescent health services and imparting age appropriate knowledge on key adolescent health issues to their peer groups.
India is home to 253 million adolescents which is largest in the world in terms of absolute numbers the move for a revolutionary app like this is indication of the investment that the Indian government is making into the future of Indian. Adolescents are the critical mass of asset which in future would be the biggest dividends to the country’s economy; thereby their health and wellness are of utmost priority’.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) in January 2014. RKSK identifies six strategic priorities for adolescents i.e. nutrition, sexual and reproductive health (SRH), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), substance misuse, injuries and violence (including gender-based violence) and mental health.
The most important component and driving force of RKSK program are the Peer Educators and this resource kit has been launched to enable them to communicate with the adolescents of their community, Shri Mishra stated. He specified that the ‘kit is being launched to enable the Peer Educators towards taking their job forward and answering all the queries in the minds of an adolescent in-spite of the plethora of media (Magazines, TV, internet etc.) available’.
The Peer Educators will be trained across the country in a phased manner, ensuring optimum use of the resource kit, which is a ready source of a range of communication material specially designed to help the Peer Educator to be recognized and respected as ‘saathiya’, a good friend for the adolescents.
This Resource Kit comprises i) Activity Book, ii) Bhranti-Kranti Game iii) Question-Answer Book and iv) Peer Educator Diary. In addition to the kit is the mobile app ‘Saathiya Salah’ (downloadable from Google play-store) which acts as a ready information source for the adolescents in case they are unable to interact with the Peer Educators. The mobile app is also linked to another important piece of cost-effective information platform of a toll-free Saathiya Helpline (1800-233-1250) which will act as an e-counselor.
While the short films will be played by the Peer Educators at their group meetings, the activity book and games will bring about discussion and resolve adolescent queries. Encashing on mobile technology, the shy adolescents or those unable to interact with the peer educators due to family reasons, can access the information through the free mobile app as well the toll free helpline.
Among senior officials of the Ministry at the launch, also present were the representatives of Development Partners (UNFPA, PFI) who contributed to development of the Resource Kit. Mr. Diega Polacios, Country Director,UNFPA stated that ‘the Resource Kit has being designed to present the Peer Educators with key information on adolescent health, which would then enable them to communicate the same and help the adolescents at the grass root/village level’. Further at the launch, demo of the Mobile App was conducted wherein a mock call was made to the Saathiya Helpline by Secretary (HFW).