Global child and adolescent health targets under threat without urgent and comprehensive reform

Despite recent progress, the world is on track to miss its child and adolescent health goals, with more than 8.6 million deaths expected in 2019. According to a new Lancet series, children and adolescents need comprehensive and coordinated care from conception to adulthood.

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Despite recent progress, the world is on track to miss its child and adolescent health goals, with more than 8.6 million deaths expected in 2019. According to a new Lancet series, children and adolescents need comprehensive and coordinated care from conception to adulthood. They also show how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted economies and social systems, undermining recent progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and increasing children’s vulnerability to violence, abuse and to mental health problems.

Children and families have faced many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the urgent need to transform the global child and adolescent health agenda. With less than eight years to go, many child and adolescent health goals are off track. We urgently need a holistic approach that supports children and their families from conception through early adulthood to improve health outcomes, economies and society. Indicators of human capital and country progress include mortality rates in the first five years of life. But this indicator only covers one aspect of child development.

Instead, the authors of the series examined the conditions of survival, growth, disability and education in different regions of the world and their effects on the crucial stages of life, from the third trimester of pregnancy to 20 years. In this age group, there were 8.6 million deaths in 2019. Of these deaths, 1.9 million (23%) were stillbirths and 2.4 million (28%) were neonatal deaths. In addition, 2.75 million (32%) children died between one month and five years of age. Among older child and adolescent deaths, 506,000 (6%) occurred in ages five to nine, 368,000 (4%) in ages 10 to 14, and 595,000 (7%) in ages 15. -19 years old.

Interventions should be scaled up and continued through early childhood and adolescence through school-based and community-based delivery platforms, where children and families can have consistent access to immunization and screening programs to treat often overlooked areas of child health such as anemia, vision, dental care. non-communicable diseases, neglected tropical diseases and mental health issues (including anxiety and depression).

An analysis of data from 95 national surveys in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) confirms that vast economic inequalities persist both between and within countries, with strong links between early poverty and health, nutrition and cognitive development of children and adolescents. .

Among the countries included in the analysis, children at the bottom of the wealth ladder had at least double the risk of health problems linked to early poverty, such as infant mortality, stunting, of development, teenage motherhood and incomplete primary schooling. school compared to children at the top of the wealth scale. In addition, the extent of inequality in child mortality, nutrition, and development was positively associated with the degree of economic inequality.

However, as pandemic recovery programs are developed, policymakers have an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen existing poverty reduction policies and create new multisectoral programs that will work with health and social interventions. nutrition to offset the impact of the pandemic on women and children.

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