AIF’s Swasthya Samvaad Unites Public Health Visionaries to Advance Adolescent Health Discourse in India

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Business Wire IndiaThe American India Foundation, catalyzing social and economic change in India for the past 23 years, organized its annual public health knowledge event – ‘Swasthya Samvaad’ at The Park, in New Delhi this week. Cantered around cross-learning, collaboration, and collective action, Swasthya Samvaad drove a seminal discourse to cogitate and enhance health outcomes for the world’s largest adolescent population. With access and awareness as cornerstones, the event explored cross-disciplinary strategies in the realm of mental health, anemia, malnutrition, and sexual and reproductive health, amongst others, for adolescents. 
 
AIF, through its flagship award-winning Public Health Program – Maternal And Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI), brought together over 100 luminaries including government officials, medical practitioners, policymakers, corporations, and thought leaders for a stimulating dialogue on the critical need for convergence in the public-private sector, towards laying the foundation of a healthier nation. 
 
The eminent speakers consisted of thought leaders such as Dr Zoya Ali Rizvi, Deputy Commissioner, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GOI; Dr Sumita Ghosh, Officer on Special Duty (Health), NITI Aayog; Dr Parul Goel, Additional Chief Medical Officer, Pauri Garhwal, National Health Mission – Uttarakhand; Dr Neena Bhatia, Professor – Department of Food & Nutrition, Lady Irwin College; Dr. Vismay Bharai State Nodal Officer, Adolescent Health, National Health Mission, Gujarat; Sanjay Kumar, Executive Assistant – RKSK, National Health Mission – Jharkhand; Vandana Nair, Lead – Adolescent and Young People, Center for Catalyzing Change (C3); Amit Kumar, Head – Community Health cluster, Tata Steel Foundation; Dr Chethana Thirthahalli, Lead – Health, HCL Foundation; Dr Priyanka Kochar, Lead – Adolescent & Youth Programs, EngenderHealth; Mathew Joseph, Country Director, American India Foundation and Dr Mahesh Srinivas, Director – Public Health, American India Foundation, among others. 
 
With an overarching theme of Navigating the Future: Redefining Adolescent Healthcare Landscape in India, Swasthya Samvaad commenced with a keynote address by Dr Zoya Rizvi who addressed the gathering sharing, “The status of being a young country also comes with a huge responsibility for the government of India to ensure good health and well-being for young people. Starting from adolescent health and sexual reproductive policy in 2006 to launching a dedicated program Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram in 2014, our initiatives are quite comprehensive and cover a gamut of interventions for adolescents. The ministry is also forging strategic partnerships with other related ministries, development partners, and key stakeholders, to strengthen the existing linkages and create new opportunities. Such interventions will help maximize the efforts, resources, and impact, going a long way in establishing comprehensive review mechanisms.”
 
Following the Keynote, the first session ‘A Tale of ‘Transition’: A Deep Dive into Information and Services for Comprehensive Adolescent Healthcare’ delved into strategies to tackle anemia and malnutrition, sexual and reproductive health, drawing perspectives and learnings from various states, institutions and digital platforms. As one of the key panelists, Arti Shukla, Director Strategy – Development Consortium said, “Digital interventions empower India’s SRH scalability, bypass gatekeeping and spark vital conversations. They offer adolescents a shame free platform to access and assimilate crucial information and break down complicated medical information, leading to a screening and service uptake.”
 
Bringing adolescents as essential partners in practice, the second session ‘Charcha: ‘Through the Lens of Adolescents’ – Personal Journeys, and Inspirational Stories’ united adolescents and youth from the hinterlands of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, to share their anecdotal experiences of debunking myths, misconceptions and societal norms, to take control of their own health, nutrition and sexual choices. These incredible young minds empowered, engaged, and envisioned their purposeful participation in systems, institutions, and policies that impact them and their journey into adulthood. 
 
The third session ‘Alliance for Adolescents: Collective Commitment to Health Equity’ emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships, intersectoral coordination, and convergence and called for a paradigm shift in approaches to ensure a comprehensive and integrated response. 
 
Underscoring the critical need for convergence, Dr Smita Ghosh, Officer of Special Duty (Health), NITI Aayog said, “We must connect the dots, integrating state missions, RKSK programs, and various components into a seamless network of care, prevention, referral, follow-up, and promotion. Integration, not silos, is the key to holistic adolescent healthcare.”
 
Swasthya Samvaad concluded by highlighting the exceptional need of integrating diverse resources and fostering joint initiatives to address the multifaceted health requirements of young people and ensure their well-being and development.
 
“Prioritizing adolescent healthcare is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic investment in India’s future prosperity, well-being, and social development. As we launch the much-needed platform – Swasthya Samvaad – to drive dialogue and collaboration across the ecosystem for public health, AIF is honored to have India’s visionaries join this endeavor. Together, we aim to advance adolescent health as a linchpin for India’s growth, recognizing its pivotal role in shaping the nation and world’s future,” said Mathew Joseph, Country Director, AIF.