Young People

Young people face problems that can kill them, harm them or hold them back.

Shockingly, the rate of these deaths is still very high in low and middle-income countries. In 2015, more than two-thirds of all adolescent deaths happened in these regions


 A young girl holds books to help her with studying

A young girl holds books to help her with studying

Today there are more teenagers in the world than ever before. Sadly, many of them face avoidable health issues which prevent them from thriving. These are recognised by SDGs 3 and 5.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of teenagers is often a taboo topic. Not addressing young people’s SRH needs can have devastating consequences.

According to international estimates, 21 million girls aged 15–19 years become pregnant each year in developing regions. Half of these pregnancies are unintended. Childbirth at such a young age bears with it a lot of health risks, such as  infections, prolonged labour, and high blood pressure which can lead to seizures.

Those deciding to terminate the pregnancies are at severe risk of having unsafe abortions. – an estimated 15% of all unsafe abortions are in this age group. This is because adolescents are more likely to seek help at later, less safe, stages and to undergo the procedure with untrained providers. They are also more likely to attempt to induce abortion themselves.

Sexually transmitted infections, particularly HIV, are also a major risk. Today more than 2 million young people are infected with the virus. In Africa, it is estimated less than 15% of young people infected even know of their positive status.

Harmful Practices

Many health problems of young people are a result of harmful traditional practices, mainly performed by adults. Harmful practices abusing children and young people must be addressed and stopped. Practices such as child marriage (over 12 million girls are married each year before they are 18 years old) and female genital mutilation (at least 200 million girls and women have undergone this physical and emotional trauma).

It is really important that attitudes of adults towards young people change and realise the harm such practices lead to. 

Mental Health

Young people’s mental well-being is often overlooked but it is a growing concern. Self-harm has been found to be a leading cause of death for teenagers aged 15-19 worldwide.

With half of all mental disorders starting by the age of 14, special attention should be placed on the psychological and emotional well-being of teenagers.

Local communities have the answers

Women and Children First is supporting communities to save the lives of young people and ensure they can achieve their potential in some of the world’s poorest communities.

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