Health

WHO calls for increasing investments in adolescent well-being

Wednesday, 29 May, 2024
Failure to substantially increase investment aimed at improving adolescent well-being would result in a staggering economic cost. (Photo courtesy: https://pmnch.who.int)

Geneva: In a rapidly evolving world, adolescents are facing significant challenges like high mortality rates, mental health, pregnancy, education and employment, and climate and environmental hazards, according to a new WHO report, calling for greater investments in adolescent well-being. 

The report, released at the 77th World Health Assembly this week was commissioned by PMNCH (The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health), and other global agencies like WHO, UNICEF, and UNFPA. 

Failure to substantially increase investment aimed at improving adolescent well-being would result in a staggering economic cost, with potential global losses amounting to an estimated $110 trillion (benefits foregone) from 2024 to 2050, which equates to $4.1 trillion per year, the report said. 

On the other hand, a broad package of health services for adolescents is likely to give an estimated return of $9.6 for every dollar invested. 

Investing in education and training for adolescents is also likely to give a return of $28.6 for every dollar invested. 

"With just about five years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, progress lagging, and the adolescent population increasing, the urgency of investing in adolescents' well-being cannot be overstated," said Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and PMNCH Board Chair. 

The experts called for increasing investment programmes to improve adolescent well-being on three key platforms or systems: universal health coverage, including primary care; enhanced schools that focus on learning, health, nutrition, and student well-being; and support systems, strengthening local community initiatives for adolescent health and well-being. 

The five domains crucial for adolescent well-being include health and nutrition; connectedness, positive values and contribution to society; safety and a supportive environment; learning competence, education, skills, and employability; and agency and resilience. 

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