Rapid reductions in child mortality globally have resulted in the largest population of adolescents in history – a ‘youth bulge’ of 1.8 billion. In countries like Papua New Guinea and Myanmar, 10-24-year-olds now account for almost a third of the population.
This generation of young people provides unprecedented opportunities to advance global health and sustainable development.
Young people experience a considerable burden of preventable poor health, including poor sexual and reproductive health, mental health disorders, harmful use of alcohol and other drugs, and injuries.
Adolescence is also when many risk factors for poor health later in life emerge, presenting a critical window to reduce non-communicable disease in adulthood.
Adolescents are also the next generation to become parents – indeed almost 1 in 5 girls have already commenced childbearing by the age of 18 years. Adolescent mothers experience higher rates of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality, with significant consequences for the health of the next generation.
The Global Adolescent Health group addresses these important health needs through three major areas of work:
We work at global, regional and country level to develop better indicators for adolescent health, and use existing data to more comprehensively describe health outcomes, risks and determinants to guide more effective investment.
We also conduct research to improve in-depth understanding adolescents’ health needs and the factors that contribute to poor health outcomes to inform more responsive policy and programming.
We also work to develop and evaluate new interventions to address key health needs, and conduct implementation research to understand how interventions can be more effectively delivered in challenging settings.
Dr Peter Azzopardi and Dr Elissa Kennedy both contributed to the landmark report Our future: a Lancet commission on adolescent health and wellbeing released in 2016.