Yhp y

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Description: Adolescents now account for 25% of the world’s population and yet adolescent health remains an under-recognised part of the global healthcare agenda. Advocacy has a vital role to play in

Adolescents now account for 25% of the world’s population and yet adolescent health remains an under-recognised part of the global healthcare agenda. Advocacy has a vital role to play in changing this and the YHP conducts and supports advocacy activities at many levels.

The YHP advocacy position is aligned to the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goal that was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), September 2015: "By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being."

The YHP focuses on prevention during adolescence because that is when risk behaviours such as tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy eating and lack of exercise usually start. Scientific research has shown that these behaviours, once formed, are hard to change and can lead to major NCDs like type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and respiratory disease, later in life.

NCD related deaths are increasing, especially in low and middle-income countries, and global trends indicate that these risk behaviours are on the rise among young people. However to date, most of the focus in NCD prevention has been in adults.

As part of the flagship Facts for Life series, the YHP is supporting UNICEF to develop a chapter on healthy living and the prevention and control of NCDs in young people. Youth and NGO staff from four YHP countries (Brazil, India, Portugal and Romania) directly participated in the UNICEF consultation process, helping to inform UNICEF of the appropriateness of key messages for use with adolescents.

At a NCD Child/ UNICEF side-event at the 2015 UNGA, YHP India was invited to present on their consultation methodology which was profiled as best practice in youth engagement and advocacy.

The YHP made a commitment at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting to combat NCDs in young people. In 2014, the YHP hosted a side-event to the UNGA and CGI Annual Meeting in New York to provide an update on that commitment and share with global NCD leaders the contributions of the YHP to the prevention of risk behaviours in adolescents. The YHP was invited to lead CGI NCD Action Network Meetings in 2014 and 2015.

The YHP countries are also playing a key role in advocating for the recognition of adolescent health as a priority in NCD prevention. For example, YHP Romania produced health manuals, validated by the Ministry of Education, to educate students and teachers on cardiovascular health and risk factors.

The YHP countries continue to work with NGO partners to promote youth participation in the revision of local health policies and programmes. For example in Brazil, young people from the YHP were, for the first time, invited to comment on the State health plan and have been involved in state and national forums and seminars, where they called for greater youth participation in health policy.

There is increasing focus by programme deliverers, policy makers and influencers on adolescent health as a critical stage for future life health and for the prevention of NCDs.

  • Adolescent health and NCD prevention have been called out by UNICEF in the 2015 UNICEF agenda
  • 2015 WHO Global Status Report on NCDs dedicates specific sections to NCD risk behaviours in adolescents
  • The UN Secretary-General's Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health includes NCD prevention as one of the main adolescent health issues
  • The WHO has a Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity

These milestones, although not attributable to the YHP efforts alone, highlight the raised prioritisation of adolescent health and prevention of unhealthy behaviours on the global NCD agenda.

However, there is still a long way to go. The NCD epidemic is multi-causal and therefore requires a multi-dimensional approach to tackle it. The outcome document of the United Nations (UN) High-Level Review on NCDs meeting urges government authorities, civil society organisations, NGOs, academia and the private sector to join efforts and resources in the fight against NCD.

For action plans to have sustained impact, young people need to be engaged and have a voice in identifying their health needs as well as planning and delivering the solutions. The YHP advocacy work seeks to ensure that voice is heard at both a global and local level.

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