Accelerating action for adolescent health – The AA-HA! Guidance has launched
More than 3000 adolescents die every day, totalling 1.2 million deaths a year, from largely preventable causes. Adolescents (aged 10-19 years) make up one-sixth of the world’s population and are extremely diverse, but share key developmental experiences, such as rapid physical growth, hormonal changes, sexual development, new and complex emotions, and an increase in intellectual capacities.
In May 2017, during the 2017 Global Adolescent Health Conference, the major report “Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (AA-HA!): Guidance to support country implementation” was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO). The AA-HA! Guidance was produced by WHO in collaboration with UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, World Bank, the Every Woman, Every Child initiative and The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn , Child & Adolescent Health and has drawn on inputs received during extensive consultations with Member States, United Nations agencies, adolescents and young people, civil society and other partners.
Relatively small investments focused on adolescents now will not only result in healthy and empowered adults who thrive and contribute positively to their communities, but it will also result in healthier future generations, yielding enourmous returns.”
Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General, WHO.
AA-HA! Guidance aims to assist governments in deciding what they plan to do and how they plan to do it as they respond to the health needs of adolescents in their countries. It is a reference document that targets national-level policy-makers and programme managers to assist them in planning, implementing , monitoring and evaluation of adolescent health programmes. The report helps countries implement the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016–2030) by providing comprehensive information needed to decide what to do for adolescent health, and how to do it. The Global Strategy was launched in 2015 to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provides an opportunity to improve adolescent health and to respond more effectively to adolescents’ needs.
The report highlights that most adolescent deaths can be prevented with good health services, education and social support. But in many cases, adolescents who suffer from mental health disorders, substance use or poor nutrition cannot obtain critical prevention and care services – either because the services do not exist, or because they do not know about them. In 2015, more than two-thirds of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and South-East Asia.
The top 5 causes of death (in number) for adolescents 10-19 years in 2015 were:
- Road injury 115 302
- Lower respiratory infections 72 655
- Self-harm 67 149
- Diarrhoeal diseases 63 575
- Drowning 57 125
The AA-HA! Guidance recommends interventions across sectors, including comprehensive sexuality education in schools; higher age limits for alcohol consumption; mandating seat-belts and helmets through laws; reducing access to and misuse of firearms; reducing indoor air pollution through cleaner cooking fuels; and increasing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. It also provides detailed explanations of how countries can deliver these interventions with adolescent health programmes.
As part of two panel discussions during the Seventieth World Health Assembly, Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN, shared his key takeaways in a GAIN article highlighting three key points related to nutrition:
- Adolescents are invisible in nutrition data
- There are few nutrition interventions that are designed for adolescents
- There are event fewer interventions that are designed with interventions
The private sector has a big role to play, because adolescents are more engaged with the private sector than many other demographic groups: they are tied to their social media platforms (90% of rural adolescents in Indonesia use Facebook!), they buy junk food after school, they buy street food on breaks from their factory work, they listen to commercial radio and watch commercial”
Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN.
Learn more: Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (AA-HA!): guidance to support country implementation at http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/adolescence/framework-accelerated-action/en/
This is the story of Akilah and Carlos who embark on an adventure and discover the importance of the role that all children and adolescents can play in their communities.
Akilah and Carlos’s big day of discovery