New Delhi: With the highest adolescent population in India, the real challenge for the nation is to provide nutrition, health and education in this segment, especially for girls, according to a UNICEF report.
The report titled ``Adolescence: Age of Opportunities`` was released here on Friday.
The report’s focus was on the health, nutrition, and educational conditions of adolescents in India.
Lawmaker Naveen Jindal, Karin Hulshof, Representative of UNICEF India and D. K. Sikri, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, attended the event.
Highlighting the improved health and development of the country’s adolescent population, Jindal said rapid economic growth in the past two decades has helped better the condition of adolescents in India.
He acknowledged that despite the improved scenario, disparities between girls and boys still remain.
Anemia was found to be a major health problem for Indian female adolescents.
Jindal said: “We have seen that parents, they try to feed the boys better, than the girl, which must change. Adolescent girls in India are the most vulnerable. About 56 percent girls in India in the age group of 15-19 are anemic.”
Karin Hulshof, UNICEF India Representative, said: “ The available data shows that maximum adolescence today, do not get to enjoy or have access to quality education, basic sexual reproductive health care, support for mental health issue and disability and protection from violence, abuse and exploitation and a forum for their participation.”
“ Worldwide, one third of all new HIV cases involve young people between the ages of 15-24. The risk of HIV is considerably higher amongst the adolescent females and young women than adolescent males and young men," he added.
DK Sikri, Ministry of Women and Child Development Secretary, said that girls were the core source of India’s growth, therefore their progress needs to be given importance.