Adolescents and young people play an important role in society and makeup 30% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean. Teenagers are considered a healthy subset of the population, and as a result, their health needs are often overlooked. However, strengthening the healthy development of young people allows them to move on to adult life with more skills to serve their communities in a productive way, stimulating economic growth. Furthermore, many harmful habits are acquired early in life and become serious health problems in adulthood.
So it is critical to educate adolescents and help them become more resilient so that they can avoid health problems, such as NCDs (for example, lung cancer caused by tobacco use). By taking a proactive approach to promoting healthy ageing , an additional financial burden on health systems can be avoided. In itself, protecting the health and well-being of adolescents and young people is a priority for the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization.key data
- Youth violence is a global public health problem. It includes a series of acts ranging from intimidation and fights to homicide, through more serious sexual and physical assaults.
- Most young people are in good health, but premature mortality, morbidity, and injuries among adolescents remain high.
- Adolescent pregnancy remains one of the main factors contributing to maternal and infant mortality and the cycle of disease and poverty.
In recent years, our Region has made significant progress in improving the health of women, children, and adolescents. Neonatal, infant, and maternal mortality have decreased. However, not all population groups have benefited equally: large differences remain between and within countries.
Women and children from lower socioeconomic strata, as well as inhabitants of rural areas, indigenous people, people of African descent, and people with less schooling systematically present a higher burden of morbidity and mortality. Adolescent mortality, due largely to preventable causes, has remained stagnant or increased, and adolescent pregnancy remains unacceptably high. What PAHO does
In September 2018, another advance was made in improving the health of all women, children, and adolescents in the Region of the Americas when the Member States of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) adopted the Plan of Action for the health of women, children and adolescents 2018-2030 . The action plan is based on four strategic lines of action that are complementary and mutually reinforcing:
- Strengthen a transformative policy environment to reduce health inequities affecting women, children, and adolescents.
- Promote universal, effective and equitable health and well-being for all women, children and adolescents in their families, schools and communities throughout the life course.
- Expand equitable access for women, children, and adolescents to comprehensive, integrated, and good-quality health services that focus on individuals, families, and communities.
- Strengthen information systems for the collection, availability, accessibility, quality and dissemination of strategic information, including data and statistics on the health of women, children and adolescents, within the framework of the principles proposed in this plan .
The Plan of Action requires that PAHO:
- provide technical cooperation to Member States for the development of updated national action plans and disseminate tools that facilitate integrated, equity-based, and innovative approaches to the health of women, children, and adolescents;
- strengthen the coordination of the action plan with similar initiatives designed by other international technical and financial organizations and global initiatives for the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents;
- report periodically to the Governing Bodies on the progress made and the challenges faced in the execution of the action plan.
data and numbers
- The health of women and girls is influenced by biology related to sex, gender, and other social determinants.
- Women live longer than men. In 2016, global life expectancy at birth was 74.2 years for women and 69.8 years for men.
- However, morbidity is higher in women, who use health services more than men, especially reproductive health services.
- Noncommunicable diseases, which remain the leading cause of death for women, caused 18.9 million female deaths in 2015.
- Cardiovascular diseases are those that cause the highest number of deaths among women. With regard to cancer, cervical and breast cancer are the most frequent, and lung carcinoma is the main cause of death.
- Depression is more common in women (5.1%) than in men (3.6%) . In the case of unipolar depression, it is twice as frequent .
- Self-inflicted injuries, including suicide, are acts that can be done at any time in life and were the second leading cause of death among women aged 15 to 29 in 2015 .
- One in three women may experience physical and sexual assault at some point in her life .
- Women and girls from forcibly displaced populations or living in conflict zones are more affected by disruptions to health systems, difficulties in accessing health care, and rape and other forms of violence in contexts. warlike.
- Every day, about 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth .
- The majority of people infected with HIV are also women, especially young people between the ages of 15 and 24 .
- In households and communities, women are, above all, the caretakers .
- 70% of the world’s healthcare staff is female. Yet half of the women’s contribution to global health, equivalent to US$3 trillion annually , is unpaid.
Infants and children (0 to 9 years)
Both mortality rates and causes of death are similar for boys and girls during infancy and childhood. Prematurity, neonatal asphyxia, and infections are the main causes of death during the first month of life, which represents the vital stage in which the risk of dying is highest.
Pneumonia, prematurity, neonatal asphyxia, and diarrhea are the main causes of mortality during the first five years of life. Malnutrition is one of the main contributing factors in 45% of deaths in children under 5 years of age.
Teenagers (10 to 19 years old)
Mental health and trauma
Self-inflicted injuries, road traffic injuries, and drowning are among the leading causes of death among adolescents worldwide.
Depressive disorders – and in adolescents aged 15 to 19, schizophrenia – are the main causes of poor health.
In 2011, some 820,000 new cases of HIV infection in the population aged 15-24 years were reported in low- and middle-income countries; more than 60% were women.
Globally, adolescent girls and young women (15-24 years) have twice the risk of HIV infection as boys and young men in the same age group. This increased risk is associated with unsafe sexual practices, often unwanted and coerced.
Early pregnancy increases risks for both mother and child. Although progress is being made in reducing adolescent birth rates, more than 15 million of the 135 million live births recorded globally are among adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19.
In pregnant adolescents, the risk of abortion in unsafe conditions is greater than in adults. An estimated 3 million unsafe abortions are performed each year on women aged 15-19. Unsafe abortions are a major contributor to long-term health problems and maternal mortality. In low- and middle-income countries, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are a major cause of death in adolescents aged 15-19 years.
Teenagers are increasingly using tobacco and alcohol, which can endanger their health, especially later in life. In some places, girls use tobacco and alcohol in similar amounts to boys. In the WHO Region of the Americas, for example, 23% of boys and 21% of girls between the ages of 13 and 15 admitted having used tobacco in the past month.
In 21 of the 41 countries for which data are available, more than a third of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 years are anemic. Anemia – in most cases, iron deficiency anemia – increases the risk of hemorrhage and sepsis during childbirth. On the other hand, it causes cognitive and physical deficits in young children and reduces productivity in adults. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to anemia due to insufficient iron in the diet, blood loss during menstruation, and periods of rapid growth.