The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic go far beyond the suffering and death caused by the disease itself. It has disrupted education, mental well-being and livelihoods, deepened existing inequalities and undermined past gains. For adolescents, these have lifelong consequences on their health and well-being.
Data shows that the significant gains from investments in maternal and child health programs do not last into adolescence. The drop in infant mortality is not accompanied by a similar drop in adolescent deaths.
Of the estimated 1.2 billion adolescents worldwide, many do not have access to health services that take into account their specific needs. More than 2,000 teenagers die every day, mostly from preventable causes.
This first WHO report on its work on adolescent health, “Working for a better and healthier future” illustrates WHO’s work on the full range of adolescent health issues and shows how WHO has expanded its research portfolio, established norms and standards, fostered country support and advocacy, and broadened the reach of its work at regional and national levels.
WHO has established an interdepartmental task force to coordinate work and better respond to the multifaceted needs of the global adolescent population. This report also provides many examples of WHO’s engagement with young people in all aspects of its work.
WHO works to collect and analyze data by age and sex, support the development of national adolescent-friendly strategies and plans; and help shape high-level policies to address the environmental, economic and other social determinants of adolescent health.
As WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in his foreword to the report, “We must work together to improve adolescent health today, so that future generations will be healthier tomorrow. “.