Health News of 2014-05-16

Depression is predominant cause of illness in youngsters – WHO

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health for the world’s adolescents report identified depression as the predominant cause of illness and disability for both boys and girls aged 10 to 19 years.

The top three causes of adolescent deaths globally are road traffic injuries, HIV/AIDS, and suicide, the report made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra by Glenn Thomas, WHO Communications Officer stated.

The report said an estimated 1.3 million adolescents died in 2012 worldwide.

It said road traffic injuries are the number one cause of adolescent deaths globally, and the number two cause of illness and disability.

It stated that boys are disproportionately affected, with more than three times the rate of deaths than that of girls.

The report said increasing access to reliable and safe public transport could reduce road traffic injuries among adolescents.

It said road safety regulations such as alcohol and speed limits, establishing safe pedestrian areas around schools, and graduated licensing schemes where drivers’ privileges are phased in over time, could all reduce risks.

According the report, globally, depression is the number one cause of illness and disability in this age group, and suicide ranks number three among causes of death.

It said some studies show that half of all people who develop mental disorders have their first symptoms by the age of 14.

Adding that if adolescents with mental health problems get the care they need, this could prevent deaths and avoid suffering throughout life.

The report highlights the need for more countries to follow the example of countries like India whose new adolescent health strategy addresses a broader spectrum of health issues affecting adolescents, including mental health, nutrition, substance use, violence, and non-communicable diseases, in addition to sexual and reproductive health.

The report also emphasizes the need for improved data and information about adolescents’ health and the programmes that address it.

Drawing on a wealth of published evidence and consultations with 10 to 19-year-olds around the world, the report also brings together, for the first time, all WHO guidance on the full spectrum of health issues affecting adolescents.

These include tobacco, alcohol and drug use, HIV, injuries, mental health, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, and violence.

The report recommends key actions to strengthen the ways countries respond to adolescents’ physical and mental health needs.

“The world has not paid enough attention to the health of adolescents…“We hope this report will focus high-level attention on the health needs of 10 to 19-year-olds and serve as a springboard for accelerated action on adolescent health,” the report quoted Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women and Children’s Health.

Source: GNA
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