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Report on Health for the world’s adolescents released by WHO

May 15, 2014 13:15 IST

Report on Health for the world’s adolescents was released on 14 May 2014 by World Health Organisation (WHO). The report revealed that depression is the predominant cause of illness and disability for both boys and girls aged 10 to 19 years.

According to the Report, the top 3 causes of adolescent deaths globally are road traffic injuries, HIV/AIDS, and suicide. Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 million adolescents died in 2012.

Main Highlights of the Report

Road traffic injuries top cause of death: Road traffic injuries are the number 1 cause of adolescent deaths globally, and the number 2 cause of illness and disability. Boys are disproportionately affected, with more than three times the rate of deaths than that of girls.

Increasing access to reliable and safe public transport can reduce road traffic injuries among adolescents. Road safety regulations (e.g. alcohol and speed limits), establishing safe pedestrian areas around schools, and graduated licensing schemes where drivers privileges are phased in over time, can all reduce risks.

Mental health problems take a big toll: Globally, depression is the number 1 cause of illness and disability in this age group, and suicide ranks number 3 among causes of death. Some studies show that half of all people who develop mental disorders have their first symptoms by the age of 14.

Adolescents with mental health problems need to be given the care they need. This can prevent deaths and avoid suffering throughout life.

Pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths have fallen: Deaths due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth among adolescents have dropped significantly since 2000, particularly in regions where maternal mortality rates are highest. WHO’s South-East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and African Regions have seen estimated declines of 57%, 50% and 37%, respectively. Despite these improvements, maternal mortality still ranks second among causes of death among 15 to 19-year-old girls globally, exceeded only by suicide.

Deaths due to HIV rising: Estimates suggest that the number of HIV-related deaths among adolescents is rising. The increase is predominantly in the African Region, at a time when HIV-related deaths are decreasing in all other population groups. HIV now ranks as the second cause of deaths in adolescents globally.

Some other infectious diseases still major causes of death: Due to childhood vaccination, adolescent deaths and disability from measles have fallen markedly, by 90% in the African Region between 2000 and 2012. However, common infectious diseases that have been a focus for action in young children are still killing adolescents

New data on adolescent health behaviours: The survey had showed that less than 1 in every 4 adolescents does enough exercise and in some countries as many as 1 in 3 is obese. But some trends in adolescent health-related behaviours are improving. For example, rates of cigarette smoking are decreasing among younger adolescents in most high-income countries and in some middle- and low-income countries as well.

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Critical period for preventing chronic disease: Adolescence is an important time for laying the foundations of good health in adulthood. Many health-related behaviours and conditions that underlie the major non-communicable diseases start during this period of life.

Top five causes of deaths in adolescents

Top five causes of illness and disability

Road traffic injuries

Depression

HIV/AIDS

Road traffic injuries

Suicide

Anaemia

Lower respiratory infections

HIV/AIDS

Violence

Self-harm

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