The Government of India has opened more than 6,000 adolescent-friendly health clinics across the country to increase services, particularly reproductive health services, for young people. However, few young people have used the services. In the Youth in India study, conducted in 2010 by the International Institute for Population Sciences and Population Council, just seven percent of young men and three percent of young women reported ever receiving information on sexual matters from a health care provider. To understand the reasons for this circumstance, and to assist clinics in meeting the needs of intended clients, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare asked the Population Council to assess the clinics from the perspectives of young people and health care providers in three states in India (Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan).
"Our goals were to better understand how adolescents in India view their health needs, including the obstacles they face in getting reproductive health information, and their preferences about how and from whom they get this information," explains K.G. Santhya, lead Population Council investigator on these studies. "We also wanted to understand how health care providers view their role in responding to the health needs of young people, and the factors that help or hinder their efforts to provide effective information and services."
The Adolescent Perspective
The researchers surveyed young people aged 15-24 who lived in villages surrounding selected adolescent-friendly clinics. They reached 736 young people in Jharkhand, 682 in Maharashtra, and 713 in Rajasthan. They found that young women were more likely than young men to seek help, and married women were more likely than unmar ried women, but that a pervasive lack of trust in the health system stopped many young people from seeking professional help when they had concerns.
The quality of services received by clients at the adolescent-friendly clinics was mixed. Most clients said they were able to meet with a health care provider without any delay. Most reported that the health care provider paid attention to them when they described their complaint. None were worried that the provider would tell others about their health problems. And most reported that the provider did not shout at or make fun of them.
However, clients also reported that the clinics lacked privacy. Some reported that the consultation time with the providers or the information provided was...