Public Health Foundation of India

Tapping Technology Enabled Teen Talent To Transform Tribal Health

Lead Organization

Public Health Foundation of India

New Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi, India

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Project Summary

Indigenous tribal people in India have poor health and unmet needs. They are marginalized geographically and socio-economically. Maternal and child mortality rates are high and undernutrition is common. Tribal adolescents are vulnerable to health and nutritional problems, substance abuse, and mental health issues.A context relevant, culturally sensitive and equity promoting solution will be delivered leveraging the latent knowledge and talent that resides within these communities especially by equipping their adolescents to become technology enabled 'change agents'. We will build upon ongoing interventions with adolescents using participatory learning action exercises, and train them to become 'change agents' to address health, nutrition, equity and wellbeing. Existing technology supported platforms will be adapted for health literacy and decision support systems.Investing in adolescents as catalyst will yield multiple benefits through improved health beliefs, behaviours and practices thus improving their present and future health, generating livelihood opportunities and creating healthier next generation.Investing

Problem Statement

India's tribal population residing mostly in rural areas accounts for 8.6% of total population with varying proportions in different states(1). The tribal community is concentrated in nine states - Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and West Bengal(2). Adolescent tribal population (23.2 million) constitute 9.2% of the total adolescent population (250 million)(3).Tribal communities are economically poor,socially marginalised with high levels of malnutrition, morbidity and mortality(1). Indicators of health and nutrition show: 50% adolescent tribal girls (15-19 years) are underweight; 85% women do not receive full antenatal care, only 37% of them receive any postnatal care within 48 hours of delivery; estimated infant mortality rate (2014) was 44.4 of 1000 live births. The percentage of low birth weight is high. Tobacco consumption (72%) is high among tribal males (15-54 years) and alcohol consumption in any form is higher in tribal men (30%). These communities exhibit a high burden of ill health from multiple causes including malnutrition, infectious and non- communicable diseases, mental health disorders and addiction.Poor health status of tribal people results from several interlinked factors including poverty, malnutrition, low levels of education, insanitary living conditions, lack of access to health service(4), faulty feeding habits and irrational beliefs(5). While tribal communities have a high level of social cohesion, the absence of informed 'change agents' within the community and being distanced from enabling technologies is acting as a barrier to health promoting behaviour change. Finding solutions within the commnutiy and building skills locally will ensure sustainable impact.

Solution Overview

Current government-run health and development initiatives for tribal communities are subsumed under overarching national programs. Since indigenous populations have distinct culture, beliefs and social systems, contextually relevant solutions are needed.Ongoing work of our collaborators with tribal adolescents, for improving their health and well-being, is showing promising results. This will be enhanced by innovative technologies ( developed by the applicant organization) for health literacy, health and nutrition screening and decision support.Training and capacity building of tribal adolescents(15-19 years) as ‘change agents’ will improve health beliefs, behaviors, practices and outcomes. This solution aligns with Government’s strategies to improve tribal health and will be integrated with ongoing programs.A surveillance system developed to collect real time data on processes and outcome indicators on health, nutrition, social and behaviour variables will track progress.The solution will primarily impact the directly engaged tribal communities which are large in themselves. Dissemination of the learnings to different geographies, within country and internationally, will have multiplier benefits. Adolescents, women and children, and tribal community in general, will be benefited. Health and nutrition related behaviors , livelihood security , skills and technology use capabilities will improve among target beneficiaries. The solution will enable technologically adept tribal adolescents, with enhanced knowledge and leadership skills, to overcome existing social and economic barriers

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