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Adolescent health 

Adolescent health
Chapter:
Adolescent health
Author(s):

Pierre-André Michaud

, Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli

, and George C. Patton

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199218707.003.0086
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date: 19 June 2019

Around 30% of the world’s population is aged 10–24 years, and close to 90% of these young people live in low- and middle-income countries. In recent decades, there have been marked shifts in the health problems affecting this age group. Infectious diseases, including HIV and TB, have become prominent and are major causes of death in Africa and South Asia. Accidents and injuries have also become common and are a greater cause of mortality and morbidity in this age group than others. Chronic illnesses, including mental and behavioural disorders, are the leading cause of disability in the age group. There are emerging problems with obesity in many parts of the world, but undernutrition also remains important in lower-income countries.

Various strategies are likely to be useful in responding to the health problems of young people. The health care system should offer ‘youth-friendly’ services that take into account the social context, developmental stage, and emerging autonomy of their young patients. The school setting can be used in many countries to implement and sustain broader health promotion initiatives in the age group. Ideally, young people, their parents, and the broader community in which young people live and work should be engaged in the implementation of preventive health programs.

At a broader level, policies that promote easy access to health care and contraception, traffic safety, limitation of access to licit and illicit drugs as well as weapons, and better access to health foods are likely to have a great effect on the health of this age group. Some of the most effective health interventions are likely to be around ongoing engagement in education and promoting a smooth transition into the workforce.

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