Reframing the health of children and adolescents in the age of the SDGs


Over the past two decades, the epidemiology of global child health has changed dramatically, along with our understanding of what works to improve the health and well-being of children and adolescents. As countries seek to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of articles published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) extra charge calls for a substantial evolution of this reflection, to respond to the changing needs of all young people today.

Childhood mortality and morbidity patterns are changing dramatically

Trends show that preventable deaths are now highest in the neonatal period, although pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria, exacerbated by malnutrition, continue to take a heavy toll on children under five. This is particularly the case among the most marginalized populations in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa – where the child population is expected to increase in the decades to come.

In some countries, however, mortality is increasing among older adolescents (15-19 years) due to road accidents, interpersonal violence and self-harm. An increasing number of children and adolescents are surviving, but suffering from injuries, developmental disabilities, noncommunicable diseases and poor mental health. Overweight and obesity among children and youth is increasing rapidly, as many countries face a double burden of malnutrition from both undernutrition and over-nutrition.

These challenges are likely to be exacerbated by demographic changes. Growing numbers of children will live in urban centers in the years to come, limiting opportunities for clean air and physical activity and straining health services in these areas without further intervention.

The health and well-being of children and adolescents must be at the center of efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030

Countries can only prosper and prosper if they invest in early childhood and adolescence and maximize support at key moments of training for a child’s future health – using what is called a ‘focus on health’ approach. the course of life ”.

With this in mind, improving a child’s health can no longer be seen as just a healthcare business, the series shows. Policies, services and information need to be put in place as part of whole-of-government and whole-of-society solutions.

The articles in this series highlight the challenges and opportunities that must now guide global, regional and national child and adolescent health agendas.

WHO and UNICEF are working together to rethink the global child health agenda, with work underway to design and update tools that will help countries put the new vision into practice.


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