SickKids expert contributes to major global reports on adolescent health
The Lancet: Investing in adolescent health and wellbeing could transform global health for generations to come, say new reports.
SickKids Centre for Global Child Health Co-Director and Robert Harding Chair in Global Child Health, Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta is one of the authors of two major publications in the leading journal Lancet today; a major Global Burden of Disease study of adolescents and young people and the new Lancet Commission on adolescent health and wellbeing.
The overall analysis suggests that decades of neglect and chronic underinvestment have had serious detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of adolescents aged 10–24 years. Two-thirds of young people are growing up in countries where preventable and treatable health problems like HIV/AIDS, early pregnancy, depression, injury, and violence remain a daily threat to their health, wellbeing, and life chances.
Evidence shows that behaviours that start in adolescence can determine health and wellbeing for a lifetime. Adolescents today also face new challenges, including rising levels of obesity and mental health disorders, and high unemployment among others.
Adolescent health and wellbeing is also a key driver of a wide range of the Sustainable Development Goals on health, nutrition, education, gender, equality and food security, and the costs of inaction are enormous, warn the authors.
“The Commission’s findings should be a wake-up call for major new investment in the largest generation of adolescents in the world’s history (1.8 billion) that will yield a triple dividend of benefits—today, into adulthood, and for the next generation of children. The benefits in terms of addressing needs for young people in low and middle income countries would be enormous,” says Bhutta.
The top-line findings call for health interventions now in order to prevent poor health and reduce healthcare spending in the future. Countries must invest in programs and policies for young people now in order to have healthier, less disease burdened adults as it is more cost effective to address these problems earlier. Other findings in the paper highlight that cause of death varies by age and sex, and by country and region.
The Commission, brings together 30 of the world’s leading experts from 14 countries and two young health advocates, led by four academic institutions: the University of Melbourne, Australia; University College London, UK; the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK; and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, USA.
Read the ‘Global burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors for young people's health during 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013’ published in The Lancet.
Learn more about the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health.