Exhibition in Dakar of youth-led photography from WAVE (Well-Being of Adolescents in Vulnerable Environments) study documents key community health issues

This week at the International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar, Senegal, an exhibition has been launched with photography taken by adolescents to document community health issues as part of the WAVE (Well-Being of Adolescents in Vulnerable Environments) Study. The study is being led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health working with the Center for Adolescent Health and the Urban Health Institute.

The WAVE Study is the first study of its kind to compare disadvantaged adolescents and their health across the world. It is designed to understand the factors that facilitate and hinder disadvantaged adolescents obtaining the health information and services needed to secure good health. The two-phase study is currently underway and is being conducted in six cities around the world: Baltimore, USA; Johannesburg, South Africa; New Delhi, India; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Shanghai, China and Ibadan, Nigeria. The Bill and Melinda Gates Institute are funding the study at the Nigeria site and all other sites are funded by AstraZeneca as part of its global community investment initiative, the Young Health Programme.

The first phase of the study includes formative research providing qualitative data on the health needs of 15-19 year olds in very disadvantaged communities in these cities. The second phase includes quantitative research with a representative sample of approximately 2,400 adolescents – 400 from each location. Mobile phones will be used for participants to record their need for and use of resources. The research is expected to be published in 2013 and findings will help ensure health services for disadvantaged adolescents are more effectively designed.

"The images provide insight into the lives and health issues of young people in four of the cities where the study is taking place: Baltimore, Johannesburg, New Delhi and Shanghai. They reveal that despite the challenges of poverty, violence and drugs, these young people still have hope for a better life for both themselves and the next generation." said Robert Wm. Blum, MD, MPH, PhD, William H. Gates, Sr. Professor and Chair of the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Young Health Programme is designed to help young people in need around the world deal with the health issues they face, so they can improve their chances of living a better life. It is a partnership between AstraZeneca, a global research-based biopharmaceutical company, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the oldest and largest school of public health in the world and Plan International, a global charity working with more than a million of the world’s poorest children.

It is estimated that the Young Health Programme will reach 500,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 directly and will touch a further 500,000 lives indirectly by 2015. It is currently underway in eight countries across four continents: Brazil, Canada, India, Korea, Romania Sweden, the United Kingdom and Zambia.

The Programme combines local community programmes with global research and advocacy. It is designed with the flexibility to be able to identify the urgent health needs of young people in local communities and address these with locally appropriate sustainable community programmes. The areas of focus for the local programmes vary from country to country for example India, Brazil and Zambia are educating young people on sexual and reproductive health and related health issues whereas in Sweden, Canada and Korea, the focus is on improving the emotional and mental well-being of vulnerable adolescents.