Setting New Standards in Adolescent Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS are working on setting new global standards for adolescent health. Current health services fail to address concerns of adolescents in terms of mental health, substance use, nutrition, injuries and chronic illness

Adolescents are unique in that they are developing physically and emotionally, yet still dependent on guardians or parents. They need to be treated with respect keeping in mind they are most at risk for death via traffic injuries, AIDs, and suicide.

AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death in Africa. It is the second largest cause globally. Dr.  Mariângela Simão notes we should educate adolescents about HIV prevention. Additionally, many patterns formed earlier in life also shape our beliefs and actions throughout life. “The health sector cannot stand there and tell people they are sick because of the ways they use tobacco and alcohol, and their attitudes to diet and exercise, if it does not do a better job of helping people develop healthy habits as adolescents.”

Dr. Valentine Baltag, an adolescent health expert for the WHO notes, “There are countries where every fifth citizen is an adolescent. Yet most students in medical and nursing schools graduate with no understanding of the specific needs of adolescents in accessing healthcare. This is unacceptable.” 

Top Five Causes of Death

  1. Traffic injuries
  2. HIV/AIDS
  3. Suicide
  4. Lower respiratory infections
  5. Violence

Top Five Causes of Illness or Disability

  1. Depression
  2. Traffic injuries
  3. Anemia
  4. HIV/AIDS
  5. Self-harm

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