Realising the health and wellbeing of adolescentsBMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4119 (Published 14 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4119
- Laura Laski, chief, sexual and reproductive health branch
- on behalf of the Expert Consultative Group for Every Woman Every Child on Adolescent Health
- 1Technical Division, United Nations Population Fund, New York, USA
Adolescence is a critical stage of life characterised by rapid biological, emotional, and social development. It is during this time that every person develops the capabilities required for a productive, healthy, and satisfying life. In order to make a healthy transition into adulthood, adolescents need to have access to health education, including education on sexuality1; quality health services, including sexual and reproductive; and a supportive environment both at home and in communities and countries.
The global community increasingly recognises these vital needs of adolescents, and there is an emerging consensus that investing intensively in adolescents’ health and development is not only key to improving their survival and wellbeing but critical for the success of the post-2015 development agenda.2 The suggested inclusion of adolescent health in the United Nations secretary general’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health is an expression of this growing awareness and represents an unprecedented opportunity to place adolescents on the political map beyond 2015. Ensuring that every adolescent has the knowledge, skills, and opportunities for a healthy, productive life and enjoyment of all human rights3 is essential for achieving improved health, social justice, gender equality, and other development goals.
We argue that the priority in the revised Every Women Every Child Global Strategy needs to be giving adolescents a voice, expanding their choices and control over their bodies, and enabling them to develop the capabilities required for a productive, healthy, and satisfying life. We call for a global, participatory movement to improve the health of the world’s adolescents as part of a broader agenda to improve their wellbeing and uphold their rights.