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Young Health Program to tackle non-communicable diseases in youth

Partners in the program, including Plan, shared news of the new Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment and hosted dialogue with other health professionals and youth health advocates in New York.
Partners in the program, including Plan, shared news of the new Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment and hosted dialogue with other health professionals and youth health advocates in New York.
Tessie San Martin, CEO of Plan International USA (right).
Tessie San Martin, CEO of Plan International USA (right).
September 22, 2011

A partnership between AstraZeneca, Plan International and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Young Health Program aims to help young people improve their lifelong health

The Young Health Program today announced, at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, a commitment to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in young people through integrated global research, advocacy, education and health-skills training that will benefit a quarter of a million adolescents across 15 countries.

NCDs, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, cause 36 million deaths per year globally. Over half of the deaths related to NCDs are associated with lifestyle behaviors that begin or are reinforced during youth, such as tobacco use, physical activity, diet habits and sexual activity; however, young people's health with regard to NCDs is often overlooked.

The broader Young Health Program will reach 500,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 directly and will touch a further 500,000 lives indirectly by 2015. It is underway in five countries across four continents: India, Brazil, Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and launches this month in Zambia.

"The Young Health Program is designed to connect adolescents most at risk of disease and early death with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive. Our project in Zambia will include training for peer and community staff as well as education and health services in the Chadiza District, reaching 50,000 people. This is a great example of how the Young Health Program is making a difference to change health behaviors and provide the training and education to improve young people's lives now and for the future," said Nigel Chapman, CEO of Plan International.

David Brennan, CEO of AstraZeneca, added: "At AstraZeneca, we believe we have a role beyond making medicines, it's about making people healthier, and that's why we established the Young Health Program in collaboration with our expert partners. The program's commitment to reducing NCDs in young people through early lifestyle intervention responds to the call for action at the recent United Nations high-level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs by providing tangible solutions on the ground."

The Young Health Program's commitment, "Tackling Non-Communicable Diseases in Young People," creates a step change by reducing the burden of NCDs through adolescent health behaviors. The commitment was made during the 2011 CGI Annual Meeting, the seventh annual gathering of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.

The Young Health Program's commitment to reducing the burden of NCDs will:

  • Address NCDs through local community programs in at least 15 countries that address locally-pertinent health issues and risk factors for NCDs
  • Advocate for policies and programs that address the connection between youth and NCDs over the next decade - including the presentation of an advocacy document this week at the UN General Assembly in conjunction with the NDC Child Alliance, the International Pediatrics Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Improve scientific research on the health needs of the most disadvantaged youth to address behaviors that have a direct impact on the later development of NCDs.

"Among obese youth, 70% have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease by the age of 20 – this is just one example of many showing how behaviors established during adolescence can have lasting and serious health implications. With NCD-related behaviors on the rise among young people, this commitment provides an opportunity to take immediate action by giving adolescents the tools they need to make healthier decisions, reducing the chances they will suffer from a condition such as heart disease or diabetes in the future," said Robert Wm. Blum, MD, MPH, PhD, William H. Gates, Sr. Professor and Chair of the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Young Health Program has also initiated a two-phased research study, titled the Well Being of Adolescents in Vulnerable Environments (WAVE) study. The objectives are to understand the factors helping and hindering disadvantaged adolescents from obtaining needed health information and services. Findings will be used to inform the health community of imperative changes required in adolescent health services to treat disadvantaged youth more effectively. The study will be conducted in six cities around the world: Baltimore, MD; Ibadan*, Nigeria; Johannesburg, South Africa; New Delhi, India; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Shanghai, China. It has started in Baltimore and Shanghai and other cities are expected to commence shortly.

 

About the Young Health Program

The Young Health Program is a long-term community investment initiative that is about helping young people in need around the world deal with the health issues they face so they can improve their chances of living a better life. It will reach 500,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 directly and will touch 500,000 lives indirectly by 2015. The Young Health Program is a partnership between AstraZeneca, a global research-based biopharmaceutical company, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Plan International, a leading international children's development organization.

 

* This site is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, all others by AstraZeneca

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