Increasing Threat to Adolescent Health from Violence and Discrimination Globally

Increasing Threat to Adolescent Health from Violence and Discrimination Globally

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Highlights:
  • Compared to 1990, the number of multi burden nations (marked by extreme poverty) has drastically decreased in 2016. However, it is estimated that over 250 million adolescents (10-24 years) live in these low-income countries
  • The multi burden countries are primarily from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and adolescents living in these countries face a triple threat to their health, namely from infections, non-communicable lifestyle diseases as well as injuries
  • The current study identifies key adolescent health issues and calls for urgent action by the global health community to address these issues to ensure a healthier young population who will be able to strengthen their country's economic health as well substantially
Adolescent population, particularly those living in multi burden countries face serious threats to their health from three main aspects including infections, non-communicable diseases and injuries which could hamper their future health as well as have a negative bearing on the country's economy if not urgently addressed as they remain the country's future workforce.

Why is Adolescent Health Important?

Adolescent health remains poorly covered in global surveys and data is scarce. However, the inclusion of adolescents in Countdown to 2030, which previously focused exclusively on maternal and child health, is no doubt a welcome step in the right direction.
Increasing Threat to Adolescent Health from Violence and Discrimination Globally

The multi burden countries are primarily from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and adolescents living in these countries face a triple threat to their health, namely from infections, non-communicable lifestyle diseases as well as injuries.

Compared to 1990, the number of multi burden nations (marked by extreme poverty) has drastically decreased in 2016. However, it is estimated that over 250 million adolescents (10-24 years) live in these low-income countries.

The study was conducted by Azzopardi and his team to focus on adolescent health and to identify key issues that need to be addressed. The findings of the study appear in the Lancet journal.

Top 12 Headline Indicators of Adolescent Health and Well Being

The team outlined 12 headline indicators to measure the state of adolescent health and well being in 195 nations so that appropriate corrective measures can be urgently implemented. The age group of the population studied was 10-24 years.

The 12 health adolescent health indicators identified include the following:
  • Adolescent health outcomes in three categories
    • Infectious diseases, maternal and nutritional diseases
    • Violence and injuries
    • Non-communicable diseases
  • Prevalence of adolescent health risks
  • Social determinants of health
    • Twelve years or more of education in persons 20-24 years
    • Individuals between 20-24 years not in education, employment, or training (NEET)
    • Annual birth rate per 1000 adolescents aged 10-19 years
    • Marriage before 18 years in females 20-24 years
    • Satisfaction with contraception demands being met in females 15-24 years

Key Findings of Study (Changes From 1990-2016)

  • Nations were classified as a multi burden (70), a predominantly non-communicable disease prevalent (88) and injury excess (37) nations. The figures in brackets represent values in 2016, which shows improvement from 1990 when 90 countries were classified as multi burden nations
  • The number of adolescents globally has increased from 1.53 billion to 1.8 billion in 2016
  • The majority of multi burden countries currently are from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
  • The major threat to adolescent health globally in 2016 was from non-communicable diseases (NCD) and the major share of NCD was accounted for by adolescents in multi burden nations
  • Young women have poorer health outcomes than young males in multi burden countries
  • Global prevalence of adolescent smokers reduced by 20 percent during this period; however multi burden countries saw an increase in adolescent smoking with a 10 percent prevalence
  • Global prevalence of binge drinking among teenagers aged 15-19 years showed little change from 1990
  • Nearly 77 percent of new anemia cases in adolescents during this period was seen in multi burden nations; in some countries including India the prevalence was over 50 percent in young women
  • 20 percent of adolescents worldwide are overweight; in the US over 40 percent of adolescents are overweight or obese
  • Young women in low-income countries have the lowest prevalence of completing secondary education and being happy with contraceptive demands being met, coinciding with a high prevalence of child marriages and adolescent live births compared to other groups of nations
  • Prevalence of NEET is higher in multi burden countries and especially in young women compared to men reflecting gender inequalities and regressive practices such as child marriages
  • India had the highest rates of death in nearly every category in 2016 including from communicable diseases
  • Injuries accounted for most deaths in China (20,970 of the reported 39,430), mainly due to drowning
Prof Patton, one of the key authors, says "Achieving gender equity in determinants of adolescent health and wellbeing will require action on many fronts, including employment and economic empowerment, better access to essential health care including contraception, implementation of legislative frameworks to protect girls from early marriage, and changes in community norms."

Improving Adolescent Health - Urgent Need of the Hour

  • The findings of the study highlight the urgent need to act by the global health community. The 12 parameters identified as adolescent health indicators should be targeted in development and health programs by policymakers
  • There should be focused on counseling and screening adolescents for risky behavior with appropriate interventions to safeguard their future health
  • Adolescent health programs should be integrated into national health programs due to multiple factors and morbidities that need to be addressed, which current programs focusing on individual diseases or conditions fail to address

Summary

Adolescents are the future of any nation and it is essential to address adolescent health issues to safeguard their future health as well as the health of the nation.

References :
  1. Progress in adolescent health and wellbeing: tracking 12 headline indicators for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2016 - (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32427-9)


Source: Medindia

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