UNICEF and AstraZeneca Young Health Programme to accelerate preventative action on non-communicable diseases

The AstraZeneca Young Health Programme (YHP) and UNICEF partnership announces Angola, Belize, Brazil, Indonesia, Jamaica and South Africa as the six ‘accelerator’ countries that will lead the joint initiative to promote healthier lifestyles and environments for young people. Through this network of accelerator countries, the partnership will build upon each country’s experiences, learning, and innovation, to develop collaborative solutions.

The accelerator country programs will engage with youth as leaders, disruptors, artists, social entrepreneurs, researchers, professionals, and activists towards achieving context specific policy action.  YHP and UNICEF are committed to addressing the emerging issues and realities facing young people today, tapping into the priorities, concerns, and solutions that they self-identify. The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced the need for policies and systems that are responsive to the multifaceted needs of young people.                                                                                                                                                                             

In Brazil, the partnership is helping to tackle the huge challenge of securing adolescents’ mental health, put at risk due to the isolation measures taken by the health authorities in the context of Covid-19 pandemic. Adolescents are being supported to maintain physical activities and healthy nutrition habits, as well as in caring for their mental health. Their involvement in online activities, in the production of cards, short videos and the dissemination of tips on how to stay healthy and provide orientation to their peers are playing a central role in this initiative

Florence Bauer UNICEF Representative to Brazil

Across the accelerator countries, awareness raising, empowerment, and policy action to address the increasingly unhealthy lifestyles and environmental trends among young people today is critical to determining the trajectory of global health. The wider collaboration between YHP and UNICEF aims to reach more than 5 million adolescents with NCD prevention messages and train more than 1,000 young advocates to promote NCD prevention at local, national and international levels, as well as positively shape policies and laws around the world over the next five years.

YHP’s partnership with UNICEF will advance the impact of the YHP by helping shape global policies underpinned by the uniquely influential position of the organisation, which has adolescent health programmes active in 190 countries. Equally important is UNICEF’s unrivalled expertise across the world, in working directly with governments, policy-makers and young people to unlock lasting change.

YHP’s partnership with UNICEF will build on the great achievements of the first ten years of the programme. Young people participating in the programme have already successfully transformed regulations to improve access to healthcare and have informed policies in countries such as Brazil, India and Kenya. The YHP has reached over 4 million young people face-to-face with health education initiatives across almost thirty countries and supported research into modelling the effects of regulation to impact long-term behaviour change resulting in better health outcomes.

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