The Jagori Kishori program was implemented as a pilot across 350 villages of Jhalwar and Baran districts. The pilot involved around 700 adolescent girls that formed groups and visited beneficiaries allotted to them during their spare time. The girls delivered simple and vital health messages to critical beneficiaries in their neighbourhoods under regular guidance from frontline workers in their village. We saw immense energy and enthusiasm among the girls during the pilot.
"I am surprised that my pregnant neighbour doesn’t know when immunization is happening in the village. I have now started visiting pregnant women to share key health messages," said 15-year old Tinkle Meena from Chhatarganj village in Rajasthan during the pilot
Below are examples of key messages that were delivered by the girls –
- Taking adequate care during pregnancy (e.g., avoiding exertion and heavy weights, frequent meals)
- Consumption of Iron and Folic Acids provided by ANM (critical for controlling anaemia)
- Planning institutional delivery in advance and alerting the free ambulance service
- Exclusive breastfeeding of newborn for six months after birth
- Regular growth monitoring of the child till the age of five through the anganwadi centre
- Being aware of the child’s immunisation schedule, and attending the monthly immunisation-day held in the village
The pilot demonstrated the immense power of adolescent girls as change agents, and the need to channel that towards improving health outcomes. However, the scalability of the innovation remained a key challenge. While the school system is the most conducive means of facilitation, the school curriculum is usually crowded and teachers are overburdened. Front-line workers, who are essential stakeholders, have little time to spare. Without constant motivation from these influencers, sustaining the interest of girls is difficult. As we continue taking learnings from the pilot to develop similar interventions in other geographies, we welcome more ideas.