INDIA – A NATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE
Youth – the critical phase of life is a period of major physical, physiological, psychological, and behavioral changes with changing patterns of social interactions and relationships. Youth is the window of opportunity that sets the stage for a healthy and productive adulthood and to reduce the likelihood of health problems in later years.
Available evidence indicates that young people are prone to a number of health impacting conditions due to personal choices, environmental influences and lifestyle changes, including both communicable and non-communicable disorders and injuries. Others include substance use disorders (tobacco, alcohol and others), road traffic injuries (RTIs), suicides (completed and attempted), sexually transmitted infections (STI) including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, teen and unplanned pregnancies, homelessness, violence and several others.
Around 1 in 6 persons in the world is an adolescent, amounting to a whopping 1.2 billion people aged 10 to 19. Most are healthy, but there is still significant death, illness and diseases among them. Illnesses can hinder their ability to grow and develop to their full potential. Some young adults are unemployed or homeless, lack access to health care, or have mental health conditions or other chronic health concerns. Others engage in binge drinking, illicit drug use, or driving under the influence.
Alcohol or tobacco use, lack of physical activity, unprotected sex and/or exposure to violence can jeopardize not only their current health, but often their health for years to come, and even the health of their future children. Nearly 10-30 per cent of young people suffer from health impacting behaviors and conditions that need urgent attention of policy makers and public health professionals. Nutritional disorders (both malnutrition and over-nutrition), tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, other substance use, high risk sexual behaviors, stress, common mental disorders, and injuries (road traffic injuries, suicides, violence of different types) specifically affect this population and have long lasting impact.
- An estimated 1.3 million adolescents died in 2015, mostly from preventable or treatable causes.
- Road traffic injuries were the leading cause of death in 2012, with some 330 adolescents dying every day.
- Other main causes of adolescent deaths include HIV, suicide, lower respiratory infections and interpersonal violence.
- Half of all mental health disorders in adulthood start by age 14, but most cases are undetected and untreated.
Here are some of the health concerns that this group needs to worry about:
- Research shows that people under the age of 25 are the main victims of road accidents worldwide. Guys, watch out, because males are three times more likely to get killed in road accidents than females.
- It’s time to start educating the youth about sexual health and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), because HIV and other STDs are still extremely prevalent, especially among the youth. Even though HIV is on the decline, 2 million adolescents around the world are still living with the disease.
- Teenage pregnancies are so common that complications linked to pregnancy and childbirth is the second most common cause of death for 15-19-year-old girls around the world!
- Depression is also among the leading cau The newspapers are full of stories of adolescents taking their own lives because they didn’t do well on their exams, or face critical relationship issues. According to the WHO, depression is the top cause of illness and disability among adolescents and suicide is the third most common cause of death.
- Statistics show that 180 adolescents die due to violence every day! Many of these deaths can be attributed to alcohol, easy availability of firearms and sexual violence.
Promoting healthy practices during adolescence, and taking steps to better protect young people from health risks are critical for the prevention of health problems in adulthood, and for countries’ future health and social infrastructure.