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News: There are less than eight years to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. However, many child and adolescent health targets are off track.
Therefore, there is a real risk that nations might completely fail to meet the United Nation’s sustainable development targets.
Global status & achievements of children and adolescents’ health
Globally, an estimated 8.62 million deaths occurred between 28 weeks of gestation and 20 years of age in 2019.
Achievements so far
Globally, child mortality and morbidity has declined. This has been attributed to key maternal, new-born, and early childhood interventions in low-income and middle-income countries.
However, there are huge inequities in children and adolescents’ healthcare. Several children and adolescents do not thrive or survive because low-cost interventions are not deployed to their benefit.
Importance of children and adolescent’s healthcare
The growth and development are one of the human rights of children. They should also ensure their growth because children are considered the bulwark of a nation’s future.
What are the steps that can be taken?
The crucial periods in the lifecycle before adulthood forms the foundation for building human capital. Therefore, the determinants and building blocks of children thrive from preconception through foetal development up to 20 years of age.
The piecemeal approach catering only to certain age groups may not be the best way to handle the crises. A holistic approach is needed to build a foundation. It demands support to children and their families from before birth through early adulthood which will last a lifetime.
The evidence-based interventions should be scaled up for children under five years, school-going children and the period of transition from childhood to adolescence. For example, addressing mental health, unintentional injuries, non-communicable diseases, and neglected tropical diseases (NTD).
Major focus on improving health and social systems for all children should be made in low– and middle-income countries.
The “structural reforms” should be undertaken to improve service quality. For example, governing for quality, redesigning service delivery to maximise outcomes, and empowering families to better care for children and to demand quality care from health and social systems.
The health and social systems must be better equipped to work together. They should address the emerging needs of children and families as part of the effort to rebuild equitable and resilient services.
The COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a wake-up call to the global community. The gaps exposed in the healthcare system must be given urgent attention.
The comprehensive care should be provided across age groups from preconception through the age of 20. The care may span from nutrition, preventive health, education, economic, and community support.
The families should be closely involved, particularly in offering support right from the stage of pregnancy, continuing through the relevant years.
Source: The post is based on an article “A look at child and adolescent healthcare systems” published in The Hindu on 28th April 2022.