Reproductive health of youth

Reproductive health of married and unmarried youth in India: where are we now and what have we learned?

May 21, 2009

Speaker: Ms. Sunayana Walia, ICRW

Many adolescents in India continue to suffer from poor reproductive health and limited access to appropriate health services. India has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, a practice often resulting in early child bearing and thus serious reproductive health problems. 

With the growing number of adolescents in the country, youth reproductive heath and sexual health has now become a priority issue for the Government. Policy-makers and development practitioners are under pressure to find out more about the effectiveness and costs of reproductive health interventions amongst young people.  What works and what doesn’t and at what cost are some of the pressing questions in urgent need of elucidation from the evaluation community.

3ie launched its Delhi seminar series on Impact Evaluation with the senior Youth Reproductive Health Specialist Sunayana Walia from the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) who presented the findings of a 10 year research program conducted with different community based and nongovernmental organizations across India. 

The discussion focused on the challenges and opportunities of conducting rigorous impact evaluation on women’s reproductive health interventions, and the possibility of exploring partnerships to improve the state of evaluation in India. Researchers and practitioners agreed that the key questions that needed to be addressed were related to the important issue of attribution: when looking at the change outcome, can one identify the impact and contribution of the intervention itself? 

In his response, the discussant and World Bank health economist, Dr. Jerry la Forgia, stressed that policy makers are often interested in packaged interventions, which requires examining what of combination of interventions work best and in what context to affect desired outcomes.

The issue of boys and men involvement in the program was also raised as one of the main challenges. No reproductive health interventions and policies are currently targeting fathers. The specific role and involvement of fathers should be further investigated. 
The event was chaired by the Deputy Director of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) Nick York, and included the Secretary of the Development Evaluation Society of India Dr. Milindo Chakrabarty and senior representatives from other Delhi based research and development agencies.

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