New global standards to improve adolescent health care

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WHO/UNAIDS set global standards to improve the quality of health services for all adolescents. Image: WHO campaign

Making health services more "adolescent-friendly" is one of the goals of new standards to improve the quality of health care for the young people worldwide.

Launched on Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS, they are described as "simple yet powerful steps" that all countries can immediately take.

The UN agencies say current health services often fail the world's adolescents; that is people from 10 to 19 years old.

Dianne Penn reports.

The Global Standards for quality health-care services for adolescents call for information, counselling, diagnostic, treatment and care services that go beyond what the two agencies describe as the traditional focus on sexual and reproductive health.

They say many young people suffer from mental health disorders, substance use, poor nutrition and other ills, yet do not have access to critical prevention and care services.

Dr Anthony Costello is Director of Maternal, Children's and Adolescents' Health at WHO in Geneva.

"Adolescence is a time when interventions may be made in order to tackle the burden of disease much later. Indeed, one estimate I saw is that 35 per cent of the global burden of disease starts in adolescence. Mental health area would be area particularly where early intervention could make a great deal of difference to the life course, if you like, and the future illnesses in adulthood."

The new standards are built on research from more than 25 low- and middle-income countries which have already adopted national standards to improve health care for their adolescent citizens.

The UN agencies also sought feedback from more than 1,000 young people worldwide.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’22″

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