Investing in the youth for a healthy new India

The 11th World Congress on Adolescent Health set to be held at New Delhi on 27-29 October, 2017 is anticipating around 800 international and national delegates including health experts from across the globe, academia, and government representatives


New Delhi: The biggest global event in adolescent health, The World Congress on Adolescent Health’ is coming to India. Held once in every 4 years, the International Association for Adolescent Health’s 11th World Congress on Adolescent Health, ‘Investing in Adolescent Health–the Future is Now’ will be held in New Delhi, India from 27-29 October 2017.

The World Congress seeks to cover topical themes through discussions in sessions such as ‘Global adolescent health: Opportunities and challenges’, ‘Programming for adolescent health in India: RKSK and beyond’, ‘Toward a gendered approach to adolescent health’, ‘Mental health and adolescents’, and more.

The mortality of adolescents globally stands at staggering 1.3 million deaths per year. Unintended injuries such as road traffic accidents and drowning are the leading causes of death among adolescents, together with self-harm, interpersonal violence, communicable diseases and teenage pregnancy. Tobacco, alcohol and other substance use contribute to health concerns among adolescents (e.g. injuries) and are associated with unemployment, accidents, depression and suicide during adolescence. Yet rather than a passing phase, these behaviours and states risk reverberating across the life-course, contributing to the future burden of disease in adults and to that of the next generation.

The world is home to 1.2 billion adolescents and India is home to the 253 million, making it largest population of adolescents globally. This demographic makes India a potent host for a global conference on this theme.

The agenda for Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the new Global Strategy on Women’s Children’s and Adolescents’ Health have brought adolescence to the centre-stage. These agendas recognize the opportunities and contribution of adolescence to achieving a wide array of global health priorities including improvements in communicable diseases (e.g. HIV) and non-communicable diseases, women’s health, mental health, nutrition, and more. For example, over half of new HIV cases occur in adolescents, and more than 2 million adolescents are living with HIV. Addressing the global HIV epidemic – and other key global health agendas, will not be achieved without attending better to adolescent health and wellbeing.

The World Congress is being organized under the supportive leadership of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India. MAMTA Health Institute for Mother and Child (MAMTA) is the lead organisation that is hosting the World Congress with a consortium of partners including Pathfinder International, Population Foundation of India (PFI), Population Services International (PSI), and The YP Foundation. The World Congress also has scientific support from Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI).

“Adolescents need to be at the centre of future investment in health and education for sustainable development”, says Dr Sunil Mehra, Executive Director, MAMTA Health Institute for Mother and Child.

Professor Susan Sawyer, President, International Association for Adolescent Health, says, “This meeting couldn’t be better timed, as never has there been such global recognition of the importance of advancing the health and wellbeing of adolescents, including in India. IAAH is delighted that the 11th World Congress on Adolescent Health is in the country with the largest number of adolescents in the world. A groundswell of professionals, global partners and young people are coming to Delhi from all over the world to share ideas, evidence and actions to advance adolescent health. The world is looking towards India and we are confident this World Congress will deliver”.

The World Congress is anticipating around 800 international and national delegates including adolescent health experts from across the globe, academia, representatives from MoHFW – Government of India, national and global representatives of UN organizations, youth leaders from several countries including India who have made a difference in their communities, national and international NGOs, donor organizations, policy makers and corporates.

It is key to align the interests of the most important section of the population – the future agents of change – with the Government’s vision of ‘New India’. It is only by investing in the young people of today that we can safeguard the future as the future wealth of nations requires young people to be educated, empowered and healthy.