Young people make up around one quarter of the global population and constitute about 60 per cent of the population of those in Commonwealth countries. Despite increasing recognition of the importance of young people in the world today, measuring the well-being of young people continues to be a challenge.
It is widely acknowledged that health goals can be better achieved if young people are fully engaged as partners and leaders in addressing social development issues through planning, monitoring and evaluating programs and policies.
Reports have shown that annually, at least one in five adolescents suffers from mental and psychological trauma, most commonly in the form of depression or anxiety. More than 2 million 10 to 19-year-olds are living with HIV: about one in seven of all new HIV infections occur during adolescence. An estimated 1.3 million adolescents died in 2015, mostly from preventable or treatable causes. Road traffic injuries were the leading cause of death in 2012, with some 330 adolescents dying every day.
The Commonwealth, Youth & Health
As a result of the challenges in assessing youth status, a report, looking at youth development including the health and well-being of as well as other domains, has been developed by members of the Commonwealth Secretariat youth division. The Global Youth Development Index and Report, released in October 2016, measures the status of young people (defined as those aged 15 – 29) in 183 countries around the world. It also looks at a four other domains; education, employment and opportunity, political participation and civic participation.
The Commonwealth’s Systems Framework for Healthy Policy recognises youth as both key beneficiaries as well as deliverers of global public health, with particularly key role to play in health promotion.
What is the Commonwealth doing for youth and heath?
The Youth Health Network was launched on the 24th of June, 2016 with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat, as a collaboration between the Youth division and the Health and Education Unit. It presents an important opportunity for young people to forge a clear narrative and articulate the opportunities, challenges and significance of youth engagement in health. It also aims to provide a platform to ensure cohesion among young people in the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth secretariat health and education hub recently concluded a joint eDiscussion on ‘Engaging young people in health and education policy‘. Various contributions consolidated the fact that health and education goals can be better achieved if young people are fully engaged as partners and leaders in addressing social development issues through planning, monitoring and evaluating programs and policies. Click here to read more.
Recently, the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN) made themselves heard at the global climate talks in Marrakech. This was in a panel discussion organised by the youth network in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat. It was aimed at provoking exchanges between young people and representatives of governments, international organisations and civil society to mainstream youth perspectives in the work of the Commonwealth on climate change.