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Focus on Health of Girls Aged 9-14


The Government proposes to promote vaccination of girls aged 9-14 for prevention of cervical cancer and tackle malnutrition among women in its latest Budget speech.


GS II: Health, GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Steps to promote Health of girls aged 9-14
  2. Mechanisms Existing in India for Children
  3. Government Schemes related to girl Child
  4. About Cervavac
  5. About Cervical cancer

Steps to promote Health of girls aged 9-14:

  • The Government, as a step towards focussing on the health of young girls will actively promote vaccination of girls aged 9-14 for prevention of cervical cancer.
  • Inclusion of the Vaccine, Cervavac in the country’s immunization programme will potentially lower the cost of the drug.
  • The government also announced extension of the flagship Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme to all ASHA and Anganwadi workers and helpers, besides upgrading and strengthening the POSHAN scheme.
    • The Centre announced upgrading Anganwadi centres under the Saksham Anganwadi Scheme and expediting of Poshan 2.0 for improvement of nutrition delivery, early childhood care and development.
    • The scheme is targeted at tackling malnutrition challenges among children, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • The Centre also announced that the newly-defined U-Win platform for managing immunization and intensified efforts for Mission Indradhanush will be rolled out expeditiously.

Mechanisms Existing in India for Children

Constitutional Provisions

• Article 15(3): State can make special provisions for betterment of children.

• Article 21 A: State to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years

• Article 23: Right to being protected from being trafficked and forced into bonded labour

• Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children below the age of 14 years of age in factories

• Article 45: The state to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years

Legislations Related to Children

• Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986

• The Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994

(PCPNDT Act, 1994)

• Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015- It provides for strengthened provisions for both children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law.

• Protection of Children from Sexual offences Act, 2012: It deals with sexual offences against persons below 18 years of age, who are deemed as children.

• The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

• The Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993

Government Schemes related to girl Child:

Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA)

Empowerment of adolescent girls has multiple dimensions, and requires a multi-sectoral response. SABLA is a comprehensively conceived scheme which involves inputs from key sectors of health, education and employment, each of which addresses needs fundamental to the holistic growth of an adolescent girl.

Its intended beneficiaries are adolescent girls of 11–18 years old under all ICDS projects in selected 200 districts in all states/UTs in the country

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme


• To improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years;

• To lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;

• To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;

• To enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.


• Children in the age group of 0-6 years

• Pregnant women and Lactating mothers

Other Schemes Related to Girl Child

• The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme has been introduced in October, 2014 to address the issue of declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR)

• ‘Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna’ is a small deposit scheme for girl child, launched as a part of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign, which would fetch an interest rate of 9.1 per cent and provide income tax rebate.

• Girls’ Hostel Scheme in Educationally Backward Blocks is being implemented from 2009-10 to set up a 100- bedded Girls’ Hostel in each of 3479 Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs) in the country.

 Udaan is an initiative of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to enable girl students to soar to higher education from schools, and to eventually take various leadership roles in future.

About Cervavac:

  • Cervavac is India’s first quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (qHPV) vaccine, and intended to protect women against cervical cancer.
  • Experts see this as a real opportunity to eliminate cervical cancer, and have expressed the hope that it will be rolled out in national HPV vaccination strategies, and be available a cost more affordable than existing vaccines.
  • The vaccine is based on VLP (virus like particles), similar to the hepatitis B vaccine, and provides protection by generating antibodies against the HPV virus’s L1 protein.
  • Experts have expressed hope that the DGCI approval will allow the government to procure enough HPV vaccines at a special price to vaccinate nearly 50 million girls aged 9–14 years in India who are waiting to receive the vaccine.
  • This will be a huge step to accelerate cervical cancer elimination in India and globally, a statement from IARC-WHO has said.

About Cervical cancer:

  • Cervical cancer is preventable, but kills one woman every eight minutes in the country.
  • It is preventable as long as it is detected early and managed effectively.
  • Cervical cancer is a common sexually transmitted infection.
  • Long-lasting infection with certain types of HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer.
  • Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer type and the second most common cause of cancer death in women of reproductive age (15–44).
  • India accounts for about a fifth of the global burden, with 1.23 lakh cases and around 67,000 deaths per year according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-WHO).

Existing vaccines

  • Two vaccines licensed globally are available in India — a quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil, from Merck) and a bivalent vaccine (Cervarix, from GlaxoSmithKline).
  • Although HPV vaccination was introduced in 2008, it has yet to be included in the national immunisation programme.

-Source: Livemint, The Indian Express

February 2024