1.2 million adolescents die needlessly each year: World Health Organization report

1.2 million adolescents die needlessly each year: World Health Organization report

The deaths of more than 1.2 million adolescents every year - about 3,000 per day - could have been prevented with good health services, education and social support, the United Nations health agency today reported.

Around 1.2 billion people, or one in every six persons, are adolescents aged between 10 to 19 years.

In Africa, when looking at low- and middle-income countries, the bigger causes of adolescent deaths are communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infections, and meningitis, compared with road injuries.

WHO's report includes the range of interventions - from seat-belt laws to comprehensive sexuality education - that countries can take to improve their health and well-being and dramatically cut unnecessary deaths.

In low- and middle-income countries of the African and Southeast Asian regions, 855, 000 adolescents in the age group of 10-19-years old died in the year 2015.

But the report - Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents - revealed striking differences when broken down by age, gender and location.

The report states that the biggest causes of death among adolescents are road traffic injuries, lower respiratory infections and suicide, which caused respectively 115,302, 72,655 and 67,149 deaths. Most of the adolescents killed in the road accidents are likely to be road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

Young men between the ages of 15 and 19 "make up the biggest share" of road fatalities, many of which are located in "poorer countries in Europe, the Americas and the Eastern Mediterranean region", the BBC says.

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"Adolescents have been entirely absent from national health plans for decades", WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Flavia Bustreo said in a statement.

"In addition, many behaviours that impact health later in life, such as physical inactivity, poor diet and risk sexual health behaviour, begins in adolescence", it stated.

- For girls ages 15 to 19, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the top cause of death. Self-harm largely occurs in older teens and is the second leading cause of death in older teen girls.

- Suicide, often from depression rooted in violence, poverty or humiliation, is the third leading cause of death in older adolescents.

The health of adolescents needs to be intensified in humanitarian and fragile settings.

"These factors for adolescents are around their whole environment".

In 2014, the WHO report Health for the World's Adolescents showed that considerable gains from investments in maternal and child health programmes are at risk of being lost without corresponding investments in adolescent health.

"Parents, families, and communities are extremely important, as they have the greatest potential to positively influence adolescent behaviour and health", Costello added.

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