By Victor Anya
A new report by the World Health Organization has revealed that about 1.5 million adolescents and youths died in 2021 due to preventable causes, amounting to 4,500 deaths per day.
WHO stated that the major causes of deaths included road traffic accidents and relational violence, whereas mental health illness was the rising cause of their general health.
A director in the Department of Maternal Newborn Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing at WHO, Dr. Anshu Banerjee, said this yesterday in Abuja during the World’s largest webinar on adolescents and youths entitled: the Global Forum for Adolescents.
During the webinar, Banerjee advised about an imminent increase in the mortality of young people, if resolute efforts were not taken to halt the ugly trend.
“More than 1.5 million adolescents and young people died in 2021, nearly 4,500 deaths every day from preventable causes such as road traffic accidents and relational violence, as well as mental health disorders represent a rising concern for well-being.
“Many adolescents struggle to access sexual health and family planning services, exposing themselves to unplanned pregnancies. Substance abuse, child marriage, under nutrition and over nutrition and injuries are major concerns,” Banerjee said.
According to Banerjee, the Agenda for Action for Adolescents was to stimulate large action in seven major advocacy areas: higher quality education, skills training; adolescent-friendly health services; better support for mental health; prevention of discrimination and stigma, and provision of complete sexuality education.
The Global Forum, which was held on October 11 and 12, 2023, was put together by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) to prioritize the needs of adolescents and young people across the world.
The forum which was titled: Agenda for Action for Adolescents, hinged on the opinions of 1.2 million youths between ages 16 to 24, who gathered in over 80 countries via the What Young People Want (WYPW) initiative, the largest survey of young people worldwide.
Sahil Tandon of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation jointly drafted the Agenda for Action for Adolescents and a member of the PMNCH Adolescent and Youth Constituency noted that adolescents have specific health challenges usually ignored in policy formation.
“In fact, less than 1.6 per cent of development aid for health was dedicated to adolescent health between 2003 and 2015, despite that there are 1.8 billion people between 10 and 24 globally,” he said.