BOSTON–The American India Foundation (AIF) has received a significant gift from the Vandana and Vivek Sharma Family Foundation for an innovative adolescent girls health component in AIF’s multi-award winning MANSI program.
The grant will help AIF improve, and strengthen adolescent girls’ health at Yamkeshwar block of Pauri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand and serve more than 10,000 adolescent girls in the age group 10-19 years for 3 years.
The Foundation is extending the support at a time when India’s Sustainable Development goals are at considerable risk after COVID-19, with the risk of early marriage, early conception, and anemia going up for adolescent girls in marginalized villages and at a time when multi-year funding is critical to solving some of these most challenging issues.
Vivek Sharma, who built his success leading several healthcare companies, said, ‘India has the largest adolescent population in the world. The health status of an adolescent determines the health status in his/her adulthood. Many severe diseases in adulthood have their roots in adolescence. Investing in adolescent health and wellbeing could transform global health for generations to come. We are glad to help in this effort, and we hope it will inspire others to give.”
“We are grateful for this generous support from Vandana & Vivek.” said Nishant Pandey, AIF’s CEO, ‘the lack of accurate information, absence of proper guidance, parental ignorance, insensitivity, lack of skills and insufficient services from the healthcare delivery system are significant barriers to a healthy lifestyle for these girls. This funding will enable AIF to provide a robust platform to link adolescent girls with Government schemes and existing health programs.
The couple share a strong belief in helping others and want to enhance their philanthropic efforts significantly. Vandana Sharma, a long-standing friend of AIF, added ‘young and growing children have inadequate knowledge and lack of awareness about physical and psychological changes that occur during adolescence. The intervention of AIF’s MANSI will help towards leading a healthy lifestyle, awareness creation about reproductive and sexual health, menstrual hygiene management and nutritional intake for adolescents.’
Recent data from India indicates that 55.8% of adolescent girls in the age group of 15–19 years were anemic, and the prevalence of anemia continued to remain at about 58.7% during pregnancy. Teenage pregnancy and anemia contribute to the high incidence of low birth weight and subsequent undernutrition among Indian children.
During the last decade, AIF has been implementing its flagship Public Health program MANSI (Maternal and New Born Survival Initiative) through a combination of strategies like the capacity building of frontline health workers, timely case management and referrals, behavior change communication, linkages and partnerships with multiple stakeholders. MANSI is being implemented since 2010 in 3339 villages across four states of India – Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand, covering 2.1 million marginalized and vulnerable populations.
Improving the Health of adolescent girls is a component that is being introduced to enhance the present MANSI project in Uttarakhand. The rationale for this is that early attention to the health and development of adolescent girls enables them to realize their full potential and well informed to make responsible decisions related to their health and wellbeing. Consequently, when these adolescents enter motherhood, the survival rates and health of their new-born child and would significantly improve.