Strategic directions for improving adolescent health in South-East Asia Region
It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of premature deaths and one-third of the total disease burden in adults are associated with conditions or behaviours initiated during adolescence. The common public health challenges during adolescence include sexual and reproductive health issues related, in several Member States, to early marriage and early child bearing among girls. Adolescent pregnancy is associated with two to five times higher maternal mortality, as well as a higher neonatal and infant mortality among their children, as compared to women in their twenties.
Such public health priorities make a compelling case for investing in adolescent health programmes in the countries. There is an economic case as well since healthy adolescents and young people would effectively contribute to national productivity.
The document “Strategic directions for improving Adolescent Health in South-East Asia Region” has been developed in consultation with Member States and experts from the Region. It emphasizes the need and role of strategic information for planning and monitoring and evaluation as well as multisectoral planning. The health sector's role has been enunciated through the WHO '4S' framework. It articulates the need of collecting and using Strategic information for planning and monitoring implementation of adolescent health service; Supportive policy environment and advocacy that backs appropriate response to promote adolescent health; delivery of Services comprising information for increasing awareness and promoting healthy behaviours, demand generation for services, provision of adolescent friendly health services and commodities (like contraceptives), and Strengthening collaboration with other sectors.
The document is intended to provide guidance to policy and decision makers in Member States of SEAR to further expand and support their national adolescent health programmes. It would also help address the common challenges related to implementation of adolescent health programmes.