UN: WHO, UNAIDS launch new standards to improve adolescent care

New York, US (PANA) - New global standards for quality health-care services for adolescents,
developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS
(UNAIDS), aim to help countries improve the quality of adolescent health care, a UN statement
said on Tuesday.

The statement, obtained by PANA in New York, stated that existing health services often fail the world’s adolescents (10-19-year-olds), while many adolescents who suffer from mental health disorders, substance use, poor nutrition, intentional injuries and chronic illness do not have access to critical prevention and care services.

It also noted that many behaviours that have a lifelong impact on health begin in adolescence.

Dr. Anthony Costello, Director of Maternal, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health at WHO, said: "These standards provide simple yet powerful steps that countries and both rich and poor can immediately take to improve the health and wellbeing of their adolescents, reflecting the stronger focus on adolescents in the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health that was launched in New York in September."

He said that adolescents form a unique group, rapidly developing both physically and emotionally but are often dependent on their parents or guardians.  

He said the WHO and UNAIDS Global Standards for quality health-care services for adolescents recommend making services more "adolescent friendly", providing free or low-cost consultations, and making medically accurate age-appropriate health information available.

"They also highlight the need for adolescents to be able to access services without necessarily having to make an appointment or requiring parental consent, safe in the knowledge that any consultation remains confidential, and certain that they will not experience discrimination.

"If we want to keep adolescents healthy, we have to treat them with respect, and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to certain health issues. The top three causes of death among adolescents are road traffic injuries, AIDS-related illnesses and suicide,",” Dr. Costello stated.

He also added: "So many behaviours – healthy or unhealthy that impact the rest of our lives begin in adolescence, and the health sector cannot stand there and tell people they are sick because of the ways they use tobacco and alcohol, and their attitudes to diet and exercise, if it does not do a better job of helping people develop healthy habits as adolescents."

Also, Dr. Mariangela Simao, Director of Rights, Gender, Prevention and Community Mobilization at UNAIDS, said: "AIDS is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second primary cause of death among adolescents globally."

"All adolescents, including key populations, have a right to the information and services that will empower them to protect themselves from HIV," he said.

He also said: "Not only is adolescence a period of life when people are particularly vulnerable to certain health issues, it is also a time when critical behaviours are shaped that will affect health in the future."

The Global Standards for quality health-care services for adolescents call for an inclusive package of information, counselling, diagnostic, treatment and care services that go beyond the traditional focus on sexual and reproductive health.

It said that adolescents should be meaningfully involved in planning, monitoring and providing feedback on health services and in decisions regarding their own care.

More than 25 low- and middle-income countries have already adopted national standards for improving adolescent health services.

The global standards from WHO and UNAIDS are built on research from these countries, as well as feedback from health providers and more than 1,000 adolescents worldwide.

They are accompanied by an implementation and evaluation guide that outlines concrete steps that countries can take to improve health care for adolescents.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 6Oct2015

06 october 2015 14:01:19




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