Catalyzing Change - Improving Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health trough Disha, an Integrated Program in India

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The Development Initiative Supporting Healthy Adolescents (DISHA) was one of the first large-scale integrated programs in India to address the broader context of young people’s sexual and reproductive health needs. In addition to providing youth with sexual and reproductive health information and services, the program sought to tackle the social and economic constraints that often limit their choices and actions. Program designers increasingly have adopted similar comprehensive approaches to improve adolescent health issues. Still the number of these programs remain few, and the international community has much yet to learn on whether—and to what degree—a complex and comprehensive program alters youth behaviors and results in better health outcomes. For DISHA, the results are in. And they suggest that such a large-scale, integrated program holds potential and promise for improving young people’s sexual and reproductive health. Consider this: Married youth who were exposed to the DISHA program were nearly 60 percent more likely to report current use of modern contraceptives than non-exposed youth. Moreover, the DISHA program offers important insights on how to implement a large-scale integrated program in India and elsewhere.


Anjala Kanesathasan, Anju Malhotra, Erin Pearson, Laura J. Cardinal, Sreela Das Gupta, Sushmita Mukherjee

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