Young people can be active and essential agents within their communities. However, poor health can limit a young person’s capacity to participate in and make a contribution to their society. A number of various health issues affect the global youth population and hinder their development opportunities. For example, poor hygiene and sanitation put young people at greater risk of developing infectious and preventable diseases while the adoption of bad habits such as tobacco, alcohol, or drug use can negatively affect their future health. Other health concerns include HIV, malnutrition or obesity, and mental health.
A number of health issues in adulthood stem from related health issues or poor health choices earlier on in life. Thus, it is essential to promote healthy practices during adolescence in order to encourage young people to adopt healthier habits and minimize their risk of developing future health problems. Preventative measures are the most effective in addressing such health issues and should a focus of related policies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity in the Preamble to its Constitution. As such, policies related to the health of youth must include the full spectrum of health concerns. To address these, the UN World Programme for Youth Action proposed a number of policy focus areas including: the provision of basic healthcare services including sexual and reproductive health, the development of health education, the promotion of proper sanitation and hygiene practices; and the prevention of disease and illness resulting from poor health practices. Youth should be engaged through friendly policies, explanatory campaigns and safe as well as welcoming forums for communication in order to play an active role in their health.
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Explore the original documents by clicking on the links below:
-World Health Organization. Adolescents: health risks and solutions. Available at: <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs345/en/> Accessed: 11th of August 2015.
-UN. World Programme of Action for Youth, Available at: <http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/documents/wpay_text_final.pdf> Accessed: 22nd of September 2015.