More than 3000 adolescents die every day, totalling 1.2 million deaths a year, from largely preventable causes, according to a new report from WHO and partners. In 2015, more than two-thirds of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and South-East Asia. Road traffic injuries, lower respiratory infections, and suicide are the biggest causes of death among adolescents.
Most of these deaths can be prevented with good health services,
education and social support. But in many cases, adolescents who suffer
from mental health disorders, substance use, or poor nutrition cannot
obtain critical prevention and care services – either because the
services do not exist, or because they do not know about them.
In addition, many behaviours that impact health later in life, such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and risky sexual health behaviours, begin in adolescence.
"Adolescents have been entirely absent from national health plans for decades," says Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General, WHO. "Relatively small investments focused on adolescents now will not only result in healthy and empowered adults who thrive and contribute positively to their communities, but it will also result in healthier future generations, yielding enourmous returns."
Data in the report, Global accelerated action for the health of adolescents (AA-HA!): Guidance to support country implementation, reveal stark differences in causes of death when separating the adolescent group by age (younger adolescents aged 10–14 years and older ones aged 15–19 years) and by sex. The report also includes the range of interventions – from seat-belt laws to comprehensive sexuality education – that countries can take to improve their health and well-being and dramatically cut unnecessary deaths.
Road injuries top cause of death of adolescents, disproportionately affecting boys
In 2015, road injuries were the leading cause of adolescent death
among 10–19-year-olds, resulting in approximately 115 000 adolescent
deaths. Older adolescent boys aged 15–19 years experienced the greatest
burden. Most young people killed in road crashes are vulnerable road
users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
However, differences between regions are stark. Looking only at low- and middle-income countries in Africa, communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infections, meningitis, and diarrhoeal diseases are bigger causes of death among adolescents than road injuries.
Lower respiratory infections and pregnancy complications take toll on girls’ health
The picture for girls differs greatly. The leading cause of death for younger adolescent girls aged 10–14 years are lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia – often a result of indoor air pollution from cooking with dirty fuels. Pregnancy complications, such as haemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed labour, and complications from unsafe abortions, are the top cause of death among 15–19-year-old girls.
Adolescents are at very high risk of self-harm and suicide
Suicide and accidental death from self-harm were the third cause of adolescent mortality in 2015, resulting in an estimated 67 000 deaths. Self-harm largely occurs among older adolescents, and globally it is the second leading cause of death for older adolescent girls. It is the leading or second cause of adolescent death in Europe and South-East Asia.
A vulnerable population in humanitarian and fragile settings
Adolescent health needs intensify in humanitarian and fragile settings. Young people often take on adult responsibilities, including caring for siblings or working, and may be compelled to drop out of school, marry early, or engage in transactional sex to meet their basic survival needs. As a result, they suffer malnutrition, unintentional injuries, pregnancies, diarrhoeal diseases, sexual violence, sexually-transmitted diseases, and mental health issues.
Interventions to improve adolescent health
"Improving the way health systems serve adolescents is just one part
of improving their health," says Dr Anthony Costello, Director,
Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, WHO. "Parents, families,
and communities are extremely important, as they have the greatest
potential to positively influence adolescent behaviour and health."
The AA-HA! Guidance recommends interventions across sectors, including comprehensive sexuality education in schools; higher age limits for alcohol consumption; mandating seat-belts and helmets through laws; reducing access to and misuse of firearms; reducing indoor air pollution through cleaner cooking fuels; and increasing access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene. It also provides detailed explanations of how countries can deliver these interventions with adolescent health programmes.
16 May 2017
Ontario is giving families of children with autism more options for their children's service by offering a new, permanent direct funding option, which will be implemented by the end of this year through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP).
Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau made the announcement at Monarch House in Oakville today, speaking with families about Ontario's commitment to flexible services and supports for children and youth with autism.
By the end of this year, the province will implement a new direct funding option as part of the OAP. This will allow all families to choose between receiving direct service or receiving funding to purchase services for their child. Families currently receiving direct funding will continue to receive their funding throughout the transition, and will be able to choose the new OAP direct funding option to receive services from their preferred provider.
Next month, families will begin to transition into the new OAP, which will provide services that are flexible and tailored to the unique needs of each child, regardless of age. The program will be implemented gradually over the coming year, with the program expected to be fully in place by spring 2018. The new program includes a single point of entry for families to more easily access services and will create 16,000 new spaces over five years, so that more children and youth with autism can receive the services they need sooner.
The province will continue to engage with families, caregivers, advocates, clinicians and providers, including the OAP Advisory Committee, to ensure the new program is providing the best possible supports and services for children and youth with autism, from diagnosis to adulthood.
• Parents can call 1-888-284-8340 toll-free for
more information or to find their nearest ministry regional office.
• Streamlined entry to autism services through a toll-free number in families’ regions will also be provided as part of the new OAP.
• Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong, complex neurodevelopmental disorder. It is characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and interaction and repetitive behaviour. Symptoms of autism vary significantly and range in severity.
• Ontario is investing an unprecedented half-billion dollars over the next four years to create new services for children and youth with ASD.
• There are an estimated 40,000 children and youth in Ontario with ASD.
• Based on the most recent prevalence rate from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, prevalence has grown from 1 in 150 in 2002 to 1 in 68 in 2010.
“I want all families to experience a smooth transition into the new OAP starting this June. That means that families currently receiving direct funding will continue to receive that funding until the direct funding option in the new OAP is implemented later this year. I want to reassure parents the support you are receiving now through the direct funding option will not stop in June and will continue until you enter the new program. The changes we are introducing are the first steps in building an OAP that is co-ordinated, family-centred and responsive to children’s unique needs, strengths and goals.”
Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services
18 May 2017
Ministry of Children and Youth Services
The Andrews Labor Government has launched a new campaign to highlight the importance of reading to children in the years before they start school as part of the annual Premiers’ Reading Challenge for the Early Years.
Sharing books with your kids from the day they are born is a simple way to boost their literacy and numeracy skills, and improve their school results and future job prospects.
Research shows that regular reading with young children from birth has a direct impact on their performance at school and cognitive skills later in life.
The theme of this year’s Premiers’ Reading Challenge for the Early Years is ‘Share a Book Today’, in recognition of the positive impact simply sitting with a young child and opening a book can have.
The Challenge encourages families and early childhood centres to help children who have not yet started school to experience 40 books before September.
This year it will be accompanied by a digital campaign promoting the benefits that books have for young kids, including interviews with authors, ideas on great books to share and other helpful resources to help families with young kids.
More than 8,000 children and families participated in last year’s Premiers’ Reading Challenge for the Early Years, reading more than 265,800 books.
Children can be registered for the Premiers’ Reading Challenge for the Early Years online or at their childcare service.
The 2017 Challenge closes 8 September, with over 2000 books on the early years booklist: www.education.vic.gov.au/about/events/prc/Pages/booklist.aspx
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“Sharing books with children is one of the most powerful things we can do to help build a child’s love of literature and reading.”
“We want more Victorian families reading to their kids more often because we know how beneficial it is.”
“We’re launching a new campaign as part of the Premiers’ Reading Challenge for the Early Years – so every parent knows the benefits of reading to their kids from day one.”
15 May 2017
Minister for Families and Children
The Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is calling on all Ontarians this Children and Youth in Care Day to reflect on and recommit to our role in protecting, nurturing and supporting all young people in and from care.
"Today is a day for Ontarians to recognize the strength and resilience of young people in and from care as they overcome incredible hardships," said Irwin Elman, "including the struggles that stem from the system that is meant to care for their well-being."
On any given day in Ontario, there are over 17,000 children in the province's care systems, which include children in foster care, group homes and other residential settings. Of them, 7,000 are permanent Crown Wards of Ontario through its Children's Aid Societies.
Recent reports of the deaths of five young people, four of whom were Indigenous, living in residential settings must, Elman says, serve as a reminder to the government and to Ontarians of how much more work must be done to keep our promise to children in care.
Currently, an all-party legislative committee has completed its review of amendments to Bill 89, the Supporting Children, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017, which was tabled in December 2016 to modernize the existing Child and Family Services Act, 1990.
"While the government's new piece of legislation and blueprint for reform to improve the quality of care of residential services offer some measure of hope, there is still a great deal of work to be done in the development of regulation and policy, and implementation in order to make a real difference in the lives of children in care and their families," said Elman.
"This Children and Youth in Care Day, we must acknowledge those in and from care who, through their efforts, have brought us to this point in Ontario's history, while remembering those who are no longer with us, for the possibility of change they have created for every child who will come after them."
May 14 was designated as Children and Youth in Care Day in an effort to help raise awareness, reduce stigma and recognize the strength, resilience and achievements of all children and youth in care. The creation of the day was one of six key recommendations made in My REAL Life Book – a report published by the Advocate's Office – that resulted from the historic Youth Leaving Care Hearings, which called for fundamental change to the existing child welfare system. May 14 marks the day My REAL Life Book was released.
14 May 2017
Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
Canada Summer Jobs hiring season means more work experience opportunities for youth.
Building a strong middle class means supporting Canada’s youth in getting the skills and experience they need to get a strong start in their careers. Today, at an event hosted by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced the start of the Canada Summer Jobs 2017 hiring season.
Canada Summer Jobs gives young Canadians access to paid work experience, helping them develop the skills they’ll need to find good, well-paying jobs. Tens of thousands of summer job opportunities in small businesses, not-for-profit organizations and the public sector are available. Students can visit the Employment and Social Development Canada website to see where jobs funded through the program are located in their communities.
Minister Hajdu also highlighted that, in addition to support for Canada Summer Jobs, the Boys and Girls Club of Canada is also receiving over $615,000 through the Government of Canada’s Career Focus program. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada will use the funding to support its Skilled4Success: Skilled Trades and Career Program project, which will provide youth with opportunities to participate in career exploration and job shadowing in the skilled trades.
“Canada’s prosperity will increasingly depend on our young people
getting the skills and experience they need to succeed in their careers.
That’s why our government has nearly doubled the number of Canada Summer
Jobs for our youth. Partners like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada are
critical to helping put our plan into action.”
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
“We are thrilled to see the Government of Canada making this
important investment in the next generation. For young people,
especially those who traditionally miss out on these opportunities,
programs that generate work experience and job skills are essential to
helping them set a path for success.”
– Owen Charters, President & CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
• As announced in Budget 2017, the Government of
Canada is investing $395.5 million over three years in the Youth
Employment Strategy (YES).
• Career Focus and Canada Summer Jobs are key programs under YES.
• Since 2005, YES has helped over 820,000 young Canadians get the training and work experience they need to enter the job market.
10 May 2017
Ottawa, Ontario Employment and Social Development Canada
New partnerships with Netball NZ and 24-7 Youthwork Trust will see $260 thousand invested to create up to 800 new youth development opportunities, Youth Minister Nikki Kaye announced today.
“These opportunities are about inspiring and growing the next generation of leaders and also supporting them to give back to the community,” says Ms Kaye.
“The partnership with Netball NZ will see $152,000 invested in a pilot programme that will use sport as a vehicle to enhance health and wellbeing, and provide mentoring, leadership and volunteering opportunities for up to 500 young people.
“The pilot will involve secondary school students attending leadership workshops, then being given the opportunity to lead, manage or coach a secondary school junior netball team or volunteer at a netball centre.”
Netball Northern Zone will deliver the pilot, in partnership with secondary schools and netball centres. It will target Maori, Pasifika and other young people in the Mangere, Otahuhu, Manurewa, Howick, Pakuranga, Otara and Papakura areas of South Auckland.
“This is about giving more opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to receive mentoring or develop leadership skills, to help them develop skills and confidence to set them on a positive path,” says Ms Kaye.
“The partnership with 24-7 Youthwork Trust will see $108,000 invested to enable schools in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to provide more mentoring and leadership opportunities for up to 300 young people.
“This funding will support a range of youth development opportunities, from individual and group mentoring to targeted leadership training. This includes supporting young people to organise and lead their own school events, such as festivals, and mobilise and coordinate other students to attend these.
“The investment builds on a previous investment I announced last August, which saw 24-7 Youthwork Trust supported to provide youth development opportunities at various schools across the South Island.
“I’m constantly amazed at how many talented and community-minded young people I meet in my job as Youth Minister.
“Often all it takes is one opportunity to experience volunteering, mentoring or leadership development to set young people off in a whole new direction.
“These new partnerships will enable more young New Zealanders to access these opportunities, and build the confidence they need to take their aspirations and skills to the next level.”
Both investments announced today are being made under the Partnership Fund, which sees the Government co-invest with business, philanthropic, iwi and other partners to grow youth development opportunities.
New partnerships announced so far this year have seen over $2.8
million invested to provide more than 6000 new youth development
opportunities across New Zealand.
10 May 2017
Press Release: New Zealand Government
Africa needs to prepare its youth for the workplace of tomorrow and this was the message delivered by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the closing of the World Economic Forum on Friday.
Ramaphosa said the intellectual capabilities of the youth must be developed to allow the younger generation to exploit their own resources and the opportunities of a technologically advanced world. He has called for a rehaul of the continent's approach to education.
“The work that is being done to promote science and innovation in Africa through initiatives such as the coalition for research and innovation and which is being championed by the WEF is contributing to this effort by building networks of knowledge across the continent by pulling resources and by developing shared research capacity across different African countries we are creating a new scientific ecosystem.”
Ramaphosa said Africa would only achieve economic growth by developing its youth. He emphasised the need to work more closely to ensure millions of people get access to economic opportunities.
"To achieve progress in these areas bold and responsible leadership is required on this continent, Government need to give leadership, so does private sector and labour as well. We need a leadership that will put the interest of citizens first. We need a leadership that builds socio-partnerships for collective action for removing the barriers of economic inclusion."
It’s time for the youth justice system to be radically overhauled, says New Zealand First.
“Every day youth commit crimes all over the country, including a robbery of a dairy in Palmerston North, says New Zealand First Social Development Spokesperson Darroch Ball.
“New Zealand First’s ‘Youth Justice System Demerit Point System’ Bill, submitted into the members’ ballot today, will put an end to the perpetual re-offending by youth.
“Many youth committing crimes are waiting to face other charges, and often face few or no consequences for their actions. These highly recidivist serious young offenders must be stopped. Our bill includes:
“It will also ensure that those youth who choose to ignore authorities and dismiss the help they are given will be held to account,” says Mr Ball.
2 May 2017
Darroch Ball MP
Spokesperson for Social Development
Press Release: New Zealand First Party
Ishmael Beah, author, former child soldier and UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War, wrapped up a three-day visit to Jordan today to help amplify the voices of vulnerable young people affected by the conflict in Syria.
Beah, who is internationally renowned for his books, A Long Way Gone, A Memoir of a Child Solider, and Radiance of Tomorrow, A Novel, was in Jordan to develop the advocacy skills of nearly 50 young people from Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Many of them have seen their lives upended by the six year-long war in Syria.
While in Jordan, Beah visited children in the Za’atari refugee camp near the Syrian border, and a UNICEF supported-Makani centre in Amman where children and young people can come to learn and get psychosocial support.
After more than six years of war and heavy violence, more than 2.5 million children from Syria are now living as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.
“Young people who survive war have an amazing ability to persevere and become the champions for peace that are so needed, despite the horrors they have been through,” said Beah, who attended a UNICEF-supported workshop on youth engagement.
“I know from experience that all that pain, that unimaginable suffering, and that sense of loss of humanity, can all be refocussed towards something positive,” said Beah. “Especially when you have someone who believes in you, supports you and extends a helping hand.”
With support from UNICEF, partners and donors including the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (MADAD), 120 young people who are refugees or vulnerable host communities have been trained as researchers as part of an innovative Participatory Action Research initiative where young people can open up to each other about their lives and aspirations.
The researchers interview other marginalized young people to find their biggest challenges. Many of them have dropped out of school and started working to help their families make ends meet. The research is meant to contribute to better access to education and vocational training. The training also equips vulnerable young people with skills to address issues like early marriage, protection against violence and hazardous types of labour.
“Children and young people are not the problem – they are a fundamental part of the solution,” said Veera Mendonca, UNICEF’s Regional Advisor for Adolescent Development. “If we invest in them they will become the doctors, lawyers, nurses, thinkers, entrepreneurs and the change makers for children’s rights.”
For Israa, 20, a Syrian refugee in Jordan, and a young researcher, the training has made a difference. “The training taught me how to identify people’s problems and ways that can help make our voices be heard,” she said, noting that she has applied some of her learning to talk families out of getting girls married early.
“These young people have been teaching me a lot in return,” said Beah, who as a child was made to fight in the civil war in Sierra Leone, before attending a UNICEF-supported rehabilitation centre. He lost his family in the war and eventually had to flee the country. “These young people don’t want to be pitied, they want to have their rights respected and be empowered so that they can grow to their full potential.”
27 April 2017