Adolescents call for action on health from world leaders

Jen Williams, Plan International Policy Advocacy Manager for the Young Health Programme

On September 23rd, for the first time, the UN General Assembly will host a high-level meeting focusing on Universal Health Coverage. The objective: to discuss how best to ensure all people have access to the health care they need, when and where they need it, without facing financial hardship.

Adolescents currently make up one in six of the world’s population. They face health challenges that are complex and unique, including mental health, early pregnancy and childbirth, violence and social pressures. Many risks for the development of NCDs come from behaviours that begin or are established in, adolescence including tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets, and lack of exercise. We have done just that.

We handed the floor to the adolescents we work with in India, Kenya and Brazil through our Young Health Programme, a disease prevention programme we co-founded with Astra,Zeneca in 2010. We asked them to share their experiences and ideas in conversation, and then write them down on postcards that can be sent directly to those in power.

Today we are publishing their responses in a new Adolescent Health Manifesto, with the aim of ensuring their voices are heard in this important global health conversation. And they have a lot to say to world leaders converging in New York. In other words, get adolescent health right and the outlook for lifelong health improves dramatically. And to do that, everyone involved needs to start by actually listening to adolescents – not just to understand the problems better, but to find creative solutions that really work for them.

So, Plan International has handed the floor to the adolescents we work with through our Young Health Programme partnership with AstraZeneca in India, Kenya and Brazil. We asked them what the main barriers to effective and accessible healthcare are and what they would like to say to decision makers at the UN General Assembly.

See what the Postcards to Power said

Read the Adolescent Health Manifesto

Serah, Kenya