Value adolescents, invest in the future
Investing in adolescents promotes their healthy development, avoids future health costs and supports economic progress.
Many health problems in adulthood, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and obesity, have roots in behaviour and lifestyle during adolescence. Thus, investing in adolescent health and development will, therefore,avert substantial future costs; both the direct costs of health care and the indirect costs of morbidity and mortality.
Healthy and educated adolescents have a better chance of becoming healthy and productive adults. This implies greater skills, fewer workdays lost to illness and longer working lives, resulting in increased productivity and economic growth.
Are current interventions for adolescents sufficient?
In the Western Pacific Region, there is growing concern about adolescent health and development issues. Responses too have grown, although they have concentrated largely on sexual and reproductive health (including HIV/AIDS) and substance abuse, despite significant morbidity and mortality due to mental health problems, including suicide, accidents, violence, increasing use of tobacco and inappropriate eating habits. Many interventions have focused on addressing specific risk factors and health problems rather than a combination of mutually supportive activities.
Promoting the healthy development of adolescents requires interventions that focus, not only on problems, but also on the development needs of adolescents.
Policy-makers can take action to promote the healthy development of adolescents
Actions taken by policy-makers will have a significant positive impact on: (1) the health and development of adolescents, now and in the future; and (2) economic and social progress.
How can policy-makers make a difference?
- Develop comprehensive national policies to promote adolescent health and development, with the effective participation of adolescents; and
- Allocate resources for adolescent health and development.