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Adolescents and Young People

Achieving health equity requires preventing health risks in young people. However, around the world young people face a large and preventable burden of poor health. This includes sexual and reproductive health, mental health, non-communicable disease, injury, substance misuse, and violence. We are using innovative methods to understand, respond to, and reduce health risks for young people.

Investments in adolescent health and wellbeing bring a triple dividend of benefits now, into future adult life, and for the next generation of children. Our work aims to improve the health and wellbeing of young people by addressing the unmet needs of adolescent health globally. 

In some low and middle-income countries more than one in three people is a ‘young person’. Rapid improvements in child health mean more children are surviving in many countries, but this has not been matched by improvements in the health of adolescents and young adults. 

We work to understand the key issues affecting young people and implement programs to reduce their risk.

Our work primarily focuses on sexual and reproductive health needs and rights, as young people experience high levels of substance use disorders, risky sex with consequent sexually transmitted infections, blood-borne viruses, unintentional injuries and interpersonal violence. Other issues of emerging importance to our work include poor mental health, non-communicable diseases and injury.

Based on evidence, we are developing, testing and implementing tools and interventions to:

  • better understand the health needs of young people
  • investigate how to address young people’s health needs in challenging settings
  • enhance collection and sampling to improve the quality of data that is collected globally about young people and their needs
  • identify better national and global indicators of young people’s health and wellbeing to inform responsive policy and programming and ensure accountability
  • strengthen primary health care for adolescents by making health services more accessible 
  • build the capability and competency of health care providers
  • reduce the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and their health impact
  • improve the nutrition of adolescent girls.