Child Health Initiative joins a new partnership for Adolescent Health at World Health Assembly
The Child Health Initiative has joined a new partnership of major international agencies working on child and adolescent health, to call on governments to recognise adolescent health as a key component of universal healthcare at the World Health Assembly in Geneva.
In a series of side events and panel sessions, over the course of the 72nd World Health Assembly, there was a firm focus on adolescent health as part of WHO’s campaign for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and ‘Health for All.’ As road traffic injury is the leading killer of people aged between 5-29 worldwide, the FIA Foundation ensured that the topic of road safety was central to many of the discussions.
The Child Health Initiative coordinated by the FIA Foundation, joined major international agencies to launch a new report recognising adolescents health as integral to the UHC agenda, with road traffic injury prevention highlighted as a key measure to prioritise the needs of youth people. The Child Health Initiative’s Global Ambassador, Zoleka Mandela was central to the campaign in raising awareness of neglected issues that are impacting the lives of millions of adolescents, including road traffic injury, mental health, gender-based violence, and sexual reproductive health.
The Child Health Initiative’s agenda saw high level support at a World Health Assembly side-event joining with major international agencies at the launch of a new joint report ‘Adolescents: the missing population in Universal Health Coverage.’ The First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta (above), made the keynote address, followed by a panel discussion covering the major threats to adolescent health with road traffic injury being at the centre of the exchanges. Partners from UNICEF, Partnership for Maternal and Child Health, and Independent Accountability Council leant their expertise highlighting best practice in engaging adolescents, how improvements can be made to deliver solutions to adolescent health issues. Many panelists supported the Child Health Initiative’s call for a Global Summit on adolescent health to escalate the urgency of required action in terms of funding and policy making.
Joy Phumaphi, Co-Chair of UN SG’s Independent Accountability Council, said: “Only 2 per cent of health budgets in developing countries are allocated to youth and adolescent health care programmes. We have 1.2 million adolescent children dying every year from preventable causes. Accidents, from violence or from road traffic.”
Child Health Initiative Global Ambassador, Zoleka Mandela,stated: “I'm calling for global and sustainable action when it comes to adolescent health. It is high time that our policymakers make our youth, our young people, a priority. We need a summit on adolescent health to concentrate minds and deliver high level political action and resources.”
Deputy Director of the FIA Foundation, Avi Silverman, said: "This joint report highlights the importance of prevention strategies within Universal Healthcare, and road traffic injuries are a highly cost-effective and preventable place to start. So, we need to invest in prevention, but also in trauma and surgical care. Too many poorer families in low and middle income countries, when they suffer road traffic injury, cannot afford to get healthcare. It's a poverty issue."
Throughout the week, Zoleka Mandela was instrumental in gathering support for a Global Summit to address these underserved adolescent health challenges. At the ‘Walk the Talk’ event she took the stage alongside Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros, Princess Dina Mired of Jordan and Kenyan Marathon Champion Mary Keitany. Zoleka Mandela encouraged the crowds to visit mystreet.org and to sign up to the This Is My Street campaign demand funding and political action for safe and healthy streets for every child and young person.
At the Walk the Talk event hundreds of attendees queued for and even climbed the This Is My Street sign wall throughout the day to demand that their leaders and governments take action for safe and healthy streets.
The World Health Assembly activism continued with a pop-up event focused on road safety. Speakers included Zoleka Mandela, WHO Injury Prevention Director Etienne Krug, Jamaica’s Health Minister Chris Tufton and the Director General of Public Health Sweden, Johan Carlson, who outlined how to best leverage the road safety agenda before the forthcoming global ministerial conference in Sweden 2020.
Chris Tufton said, “Road accidents are a public health crisis. We need to elevate the conversation to that level because that’s what it is. This year we’ll have over 400 deaths on the roads in Jamaica ... I fully endorse the conference in Sweden.”