Today, there are about 1.8 billion adolescents and young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years around the world. Investments in their health and education can transform their lives and produce positive economic and social results, providing benefits now and for future generations. Jhpiego supports evidence-based adolescent health programs that aid young people and contribute to broader development goals. (Generally, “adolescent” refers to 10–19 year olds and “youth” to 15–24 year olds.)
About Adolescent & Youth Health
- The benefit–cost ratio of investments in adolescent health has been estimated to be 10-fold in terms of health, social and economic benefits.1
- More than half of all adolescents live in Asia,2 and adolescents make up 23% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa.3
- About 16 million girls aged 15–19 years give birth in developing countries each year.3
- The leading cause of death for girls aged 15–19 years is complications from pregnancy and childbirth.4
- More than 2 million adolescents are living with HIV.5
- Among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, girls account for 74% of new HIV infections.5
Why Invest in Adolescent & Youth Health?
Adolescents have a fundamental right to health. Investments in adolescents not only benefit the young people themselves but also contribute to broader development goals. These investments can have long-term and cost-effective impact and can reduce poverty and increase countries’ economic growth. For example, enhancing adolescents’ economic abilities benefits them individually as well as their households and community. By preventing pregnancy, adolescent girls can experience improved health (while avoiding the dangers of pregnancy and delivery), a better chance of reaching a higher education level and building their skillsets (an extra year of education beyond the average can boost a girl’s future earnings by 10–20%), lower fertility over their lifetime, prevention of unsafe abortions and reduced social isolation.6
The Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved without strategies that promote the health and well-being of adolescents.
Where We Work
Jhpiego has supported ministries of health and non-government-led health programs in more than 20 countries to improve the health and well-being of adolescents. Building upon Jhpiego’s global leadership in maternal and reproductive health, Jhpiego supports programs that provide age-appropriate, comprehensive adolescent and youth health care, including counseling and education, with strong input from adolescents, youth and community stakeholders. Jhpiego is currently engaged in programs with adolescent and youth elements in more than 14 countries with many international donors, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and Merck for Mothers.
How We Make an Impact
We equip adolescents with the education, support, services and opportunities they need to plan their futures and reach their goals. Jhpiego’s four-pronged adolescent and youth health approach involves:
Empowering adolescents and supporting youth-led work
- To ensure adolescent and youth-led design, we work hand-in-hand with adolescents and youth as partners in project design.
- We help adolescents and youth to set goals and plan their futures, connect them to health services so they can meet their goals, and introduce them to economic and education opportunities to help them transform their futures.
- We identify and train peer leaders and help build the capacity of adolescent and youth clubs because we recognize the crucial role that peers play in informing each other about health services.
Enabling adolescent- and youth-friendly health care services
- Our sexual and reproductive health and family planning initiatives provide counseling and information to adolescents and youth, so they can protect their health and prevent unintended pregnancies; generate knowledge about and demand for contraceptives; and increase access to adolescent-friendly health services.
- We work with ministries of health and health facilities to transform health services to be responsive to adolescents and youth, building service provider capacity to offer quality adolescent health care services that are nonjudgmental and nondiscriminative.
- Our HIV initiatives connect key and vulnerable populations, including adolescent girls and young women, with community-based comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment services. Our approach equips adolescents and youth with educational materials, peer support networks, youth-friendly health services (including HIV counseling, testing and treatment) and commodities. We also teach business skills to girls who are not in school and support them to form groups where they can access capital for business and build social networks.
Supporting community engagement and mobilization
To increase awareness of, demand for and access to adolescent and youth health services, we engage communities to create an enabling environment that supports adolescents and youth by:
- Working with community and religious leaders so they understand the challenges adolescents face and the importance of investing in this population
- Mapping communities to identify need and increase access to services
- Strengthening parents’ skills to communicate with adolescents and youth and to serve as parent champions who mentor other parents
Strengthen policy and advocacy
We support national ministries of health to:
- Coordinate adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health services at the national level through technical working groups
- Advocate for resources to support adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health services
- Develop national policies, standards and guidelines to improve quality of adolescent health
- Work with ministries of health to efficiently scale up national HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination programs to protect girls and improve adolescent health
- Determine strategies for reaching girls in and out of school for HPV vaccination
- Footnotes ▾
- 1 Sheehan P, et al. 2017. Building the foundations for sustainable development: a case for global investment in the capabilities of adolescents. Lancet; 390(10104): 1792-1806.
- 2 UNICEF Data. 2018.
- 3 World Bank Data. Adolescent fertility rate (births per 1,000 women ages 15-19).
- 4 WHO. 2018. Fact sheet: Adolescents: health risks and solutions.
- 5 PEPFAR. Adolescent Girls & Women.
- 6 UNFPA. 2010. The Case for Investing in Young People: as part of a National Poverty Reduction Strategy.