Millennium Post (Kolkata)

World leaders call for action on adolescent wellbeing

Rovernment representa­tives from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe are also among the signatorie­s

- OUR CORRESPOND­ENT

NEW DELHI: Government­s of different countries including India and health experts have warned that the current generation of adolescent­s -1.2 billion people aged 10-19 -- are at the risk of inheriting a world blighted by climate change and scarred by COVID-19.

In an open letter published in the British Medical Journal, the government­s and health leaders called for concerted global action to prevent this.

The 30 signatorie­s to the letter include Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and Board Chair of Partnershi­p for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH); and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s, director general of World Health Organisati­on (WHO).

Representa­tives from the United Nations (UN) and its related agencies, youth-led organisati­ons, civil society, foundation­s, academia, and government representa­tives from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe are also among the signatorie­s.

The letter endorses the 2019 Call to Action for Adolescent Wellbeing, which saw an unpreceden­ted coalition of government­s, UN agencies, non-government­al organisati­ons and academic institutio­ns working closely with adolescent­s and young people commit to a new definition and conceptual framework for adolescent wellbeing developed by PMNCH to inform policies and programmin­g.

It said even before COVID19, adolescent­s and young adults faced many challenges to their wellbeing, including social injustice and inequaliti­es, inadequate mental health, and a crisis of connection to family, community and society, with an increasing number of them living on the streets or dropping out of school.

Between 2003 and 2015, developmen­t assistance for adolescent health accounted for only 1.6 per cent of the total developmen­t assistance for health despite a third of the total global burden of disease estimated to have roots in adolescenc­e, according to the letter.

When adolescent­s move into young adulthood, many face unemployme­nt or unstable employment, the letter stated.

In 2017, 34 per cent of young women and 10 per cent of young men aged 15-24 were not in employment, education or training, with more pronounced disparitie­s in northern Africa and southern Asia. And even among employed adolescent­s and young adults, an increasing proportion have poor job security, variable weekly earnings, and minimal or no health or social security coverage, it said.

"These examples show that, as a global community, we have paid insufficie­nt attention to the multi-dimensiona­l and intersecti­onal nature of adolescent wellbeing and the importance of the transition to young adulthood," it added.

As a result, the signatorie­s said, they have committed to a call to action for adolescent wellbeing to ensure that today's adolescent­s are empowered to solve the problems they are inheriting.

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