Joint WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA Meeting on Improving Adolescent Health in the Region
A joint WHO, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) meeting on improving adolescent health in the region was organized in order to encourage and support countries to collate and utilize strategic data, develop evidence–informed policies, share experiences and challenges among countries and develop a common vision for improving adolescent health, and to receive inputs for revising the regional strategic direction.
Adolescents are a vulnerable group and are exposed to many risks that can have a negative impact on their health and present and future lives. While mortality among adolescents is low compared to other ages, serious health concerns among adolescents relate to their reproductive and sexual health, injuries and accidents, under/over nutrition and anaemia, and substance use-problems that significantly contribute to the morbidity and mortality in this age group. The behaviours adopted during these years contribute significantly to the morbidity and mortality during adulthood and that of their future offspring.
In 2000, WHO/WPRO introduced a Regional Framework for Adolescent Health and Development. The key thrusts were placed on mainstreaming adolescent health issues into existing technical areas, promoting the active participation of adolescents in the development, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes, and strengthening partnerships within WHO and with country and regional partners.
In 2007, WHO/WPRO along with UNFPA and UNICEF, developed a Framework for accelerating actions for sexual and reproductive health of young people. This framework aims to give guidance to policy makers and programme managers in fulfilling their obligation to provide for the health needs and protect the rights of the young people.
WHO has developed the '4S' framework. The 4Ss framework intends to guide the response of the health sector to promote adolescent health and focuses on:
(1) Strategic information - support to the health sector in strengthening capacity in countries to collect, analyse and disseminate data about determinants, behaviours, and outcomes in order to inform policies, services and work with other sectors.
(2) Services and supplies - strengthening health systems and the development of services that provide accessible youth friendly health care.
(3) Supportive evidence-based policies - supporting the health sector to build and disseminate the evidence base to inform policy development and strategic approaches to the promotion of adolescent health.
(4) Support for and synergy with sectors – support the health sector to work in partnership with other sector, such as education, youth, media; and civil society, to facilitate a comprehensive approach to the promotion of adolescent health.
The objectives of the meeting were:
(1) to share available information on the health and behaviour of adolescents, national policies and strategies related to adolescent health, and experiences and challenges faced in providing services for adolescents;
(2) to familiarize the participants with the 4S framework for strengthening health sector's response to adolescent health, introduce available tools and discuss ways to disseminate and utilize them; and
(3) to plan for the next steps in improving adolescent health in countries and provide inputs to the regional strategic direction on Adolescent Health.