17 February 2015

Inclusion of Adolescent Health in the renewed Every Woman Every Child Global Strategy

The H4+ partnership, United Nation’s agencies, government, civil society and other multi-stakeholders took part in this two-day consultation meeting, led by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Interventions discussed included helping girls stay in school; extending free and compulsory schooling to secondary level; access to sexual and reproductive health information and services regardless of marital or other status; mental health services; minimum age at marriage set to 18; institutionalized mechanisms for participation, and citizenship; laws and policies on access to wage employment and capital; birth and marriage registration; data collection and analysis; and other priority actions.

Once they determined the global priorities for adolescents; focused on marginalized populations; and identified resource needs, partnerships and measuring results, the group developed a high-level strategy document, which will inform the Global Strategy 2.0.

There is much work to be done to improve the lives of adolescents. Worldwide, more than 15 million girls age 15 to 19 give birth every year. Nine out of 10 adolescent pregnancies take place in the context of early, often forced, marriages. More than two million adolescents between the ages of 10-19 years are living with HIV. They are the only age group in which AIDS-related deaths are not increasing. These are just some of the health challenges this age group faces today.

Quality education, training, health information and services as well as opportunities to participate in decision-making and human rights protections are necessary for this stage of life. With these investments, adolescents are able to thrive, contribute fully for the development of their societies, and develop the judgment, values, behaviors, and resilience they need to be safe and to help create and sustain national and global development and peace.  

As we move from the MDGs to the SDGs, the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health will be the basis for Every Woman Every Child’s continued efforts to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve services on the ground for the most vulnerable women, adolescents and children. Updating the conceptual framework and technical content for the Global Strategy 2.0 is led by the H4+ partnership and PMNCH, with WHO having a coordinating role. The Global Strategy 2.0 framework will consider the emerging needs, increased evidence-base, and a better understanding of the broader determinants related to health systems, enablers, and human rights for women, adolescents and children. The updated Global Strategy will potentially create a great impact in supporting the needs and ensuring a better future for adolescents, women and children around the world.