In Reproductive Health journal, WSSCC’s Archana Patkar joins call to invest in young people

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Bringing together over 4,500 participants from 149 countries, the Women Deliver conference in May this year was one of the largest ever gatherings of policymakers, advocates and researchers aimed exclusively at women’s health and empowerment.

Calling fWSSCC's Archana Patkar at the Women Deliver conference 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysiaor investment in the health and development of adolescents and young people, the three-day event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia highlighted the problems faced by adolescent girls and young women, and stressed the importance of addressing individual and global health needs and rights, such as reducing maternal mortality and HIV infection.

In response, WSSCC’s Archana Patkar worked with 15 fellow health advisors, academic researchers and other experts on an article for the online journal, Reproductive Health, which covers the conference’s major themes and proposes solutions for meeting the health and development needs of adolescents and young people.

Available online at: www.reproductive-health-journal.com/content/10/1/51, the authors argue that ‘investing in adolescents and young people is crucial for ensuring health, creating prosperity and fulfilling human rights’. According to UNICEF, there are currently 1.2 billion adolescents in the world – the largest population of 10-19-year-olds in human history. As the numbers rise, so do potential threats. Every year, for instance, an estimated 1.4 million adolescents die from road traffic injuries, violence and pregnancy-related causes.

The article covers a range of critical subjects, including the negative health and social effects of gender inequality – illustrated by child marriage and taboos around menstruation – and calls for better sex education, adolescent-centred health services, greater government leadership and intervention, and more involvement by adolescents in national and local health initiatives.

Delivering a thought-provoking piece, the authors conclude with a clear message. ‘The time to act is now. We know more now than ever before about the health and development needs of adolescents and young people, as well as the solutions to meeting those needs.’