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World Health Organization (WHO) says Time to Stop Deaths of Young Children through Immunization and Programs

Dr. Anthony Costello, director of WHO's Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health told VOA, "We’re finding 1.2 million (adolescents) die each year. That’s 3,000 deaths a day. That’s 10 jumbo jets."

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FILE - Ana Garcia, center, fills out a form for her 13-year-old son, Jose Hernandez, before getting a Tdap shot outside Tustin High School in Tustin, Calif. Source-VOA

Washington, May 20, 2017: The World Health Organization has delivered dramatic news about the causes of death for young people the world over. Governments and health agencies have made great strides in reducing deaths of young children through immunization and programs that address maternal and infant care. But adolescents have somehow fallen through the cracks.

Dr. Anthony Costello, director of WHO’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health told VOA, “We’re finding 1.2 million (adolescents) die each year. That’s 3,000 deaths a day. That’s 10 jumbo jets.” What’s more, Costello says these deaths are largely preventable.

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The study shows traffic injuries are the top cause of death among adolescents, those between 10 and 19. In most cases, the adolescent is struck by a car while walking or riding a bicycle.

Other leading causes of death include lower respiratory infections and suicide, the report found. The causes differ by gender, age and region. Boys between 15 and 19 years old are more likely to die from traffic injuries than girls or than younger boys. In sub-Saharan Africa, children are more likely to contract HIV.

Girls between 10 and 14 are at risk for getting respiratory infections from indoor air pollution and from breathing in fumes from cooking fuels. Older girls, between 15 and 19, had a greater risk of death from pregnancy complications, childbirth or unsafe abortions. Teenage girls generally have small pelvises which lead to difficult labor.

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Costello said pregnant adolescent girls are also “more likely to get high blood pressure; they may be more vulnerable to bleeding, they may be more anemic. They may be in situations more vulnerable to malaria, to HIV.”

The point of the study that was conducted by the WHO and partners at other U.N. agencies and the World Bank.

Head of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization(WHO) Dr Anthony Costello attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 2, 2016.

Head of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization(WHO) Dr Anthony Costello attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 2, 2016.

Looking forward

While the study focuses on the causes of death, Costello said the point was to help develop a framework and a plan to improve the health of adolescents. If adolescents had access to good health services, education and social support, fewer young people would die. In the case of traffic related deaths, he said better traffic laws, speed limits, the use of seatbelts could save lives in countries that don’t have strict driving safety laws. Costello pointed out that “In India, for example, there are 90,000 deaths on the road each year; many of those are adolescents and children.”

Dr. Flavia Bustreo, the assistant director-general at WHO, said, “Adolescents have been entirely absent from national health plans for decades.” The report proposes changing these plans and trying to help adolescents develop healthy lifestyle habits.

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Costello said, “The roots of diabetes, of heart attacks, of strokes, of lung cancer, the root of that lies in the adolescent years, how the adolescents approach nutrition, and diet and exercise, whether they start to smoke or not, or abuse other substances.

Concept shift

Costello said countries need to create more adolescent friendly cities so adolescents have places to play, gather together safely and avoid gang violence.

“Governments have got to invest in young people,” Costello said, because “they’re the future. We mustn’t be afraid to involve children in designing their own environments, in coming up with creative ideas, in working with peer groups, and investing in things that will give them an exciting life without exposing them to long term risks that could be avoidable.”

A study published in The Lancet in April shows that improving the physical, mental and sexual health of adolescents could result in significant economic returns. The study contends that an investment of about $4.60 per person per year would yield more than 10 times as much in benefits to society. This study was conducted by researchers from Victoria University and the University of Melbourne along with the United Nations Populations Fund.

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Reduction in Air Pollution May Increase Life-Expectancy: Study

Findings of a Research indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution

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Fortunately, reducing air Pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Pixabay

Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, reviewed interventions that have reduced air pollution at its source. It looked for outcomes and time to achieve those outcomes in several settings, finding that the improvements in health were striking.

Starting at week one of a ban on smoking in Ireland, for example, there was a 13 per cent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 per cent reduction in ischemic heart disease, a 32 per cent reduction in stroke, and a 38 per cent reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the greatest benefits in that case occurred among non-smokers.

“We knew there were benefits from pollution control, but the magnitude and relatively short time duration to accomplish them were impressive,” said lead author Dean Schraufnagel from the American Thoracic Society in the US.

“Our findings indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately,” Schraufnagel added.

Pollution
Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests. Pixabay

According to the researchers, In the US a 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah resulted in reducing hospitalisations for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis and asthma by half.

School absenteeism decreased by 40 per cent, and daily mortality fell by 16 per cent for every 100 µg/m3 PM10 (a pollutant) decrease.

Women who were pregnant during the mill closing were less likely to have premature births.

A 17-day ‘transportation strategy,’ in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Olympic Games involved closing parts of the city to help athletes make it to their events on time, but also greatly decreased air pollution.

In the following four weeks, children’s visits for asthma to clinics dropped by more than 40 per cent and trips to emergency departments by 11 per cent. Hospitalizations for asthma decreased by 19 per cent.

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Findings of the Study indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately. Wikimedia Commons

Similarly, when China imposed factory and travel restrictions for the Beijing Olympics, lung function improved within two months, with fewer asthma-related physician visits and less cardiovascular mortality.

“Fortunately, reducing air pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Sweeping policies affecting a whole country can reduce all-cause mortality within weeks,” Schraufnagel said.

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Local programmes, such as reducing traffic, have also promptly improved many health measures, said the study. (IANS)