#SRHR Matters!

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) is critical for the health and well-being of adolescents, particularly for girls and young women. The headline in the Guardian newspaper today is: “Pregnancy problems are leading global killer of ​​females aged 15 to 19.”

Maternal and reproductive ill-health are the leading cause of death globally among females aged 15-19, with self-harm in second place, a new report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found.

Released today, the repost states that more than 3000 adolescents die every day, totalling 1.2 million deaths a year, from largely preventable causes. In 2015, more than two-thirds of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and South-East Asia. Road traffic injuries, lower respiratory infections, and suicide are the biggest causes of death among adolescents.

The leading cause of death for younger adolescent girls aged 10–14 years are lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia – often a result of indoor air pollution from cooking with dirty fuels. Pregnancy complications, such as haemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed labour, and complications from unsafe abortions, are the top cause of death among 15–19-year-old girls.

For boys, it’s a different story. In 2015, road injuries were the leading cause of adolescent death among 10–19-year-olds, resulting in approximately 115 000 adolescent deaths. Older adolescent boys aged 15–19 years experienced the greatest burden. Most young people killed in road crashes are vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

However, differences between regions are stark. Looking only at low- and middle-income countries in Africa, communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infections, meningitis, and diarrhoeal diseases are bigger causes of death among adolescents than road injuries.

The AA-HA! Guidance was produced by WHO in collaboration with UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, World Bank, the Every Woman, Every Child initiative and The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn , Child & Adolescent Health. The report helps countries implement the Global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health (2016–2030) by providing comprehensive information needed to decide what to do for adolescent health, and how to do it.

The report is being launched today, at the Global Adolescent Health Conference: Unleashing the Power of a Generation, in Ottawa, Canada.

Lucy Stackpool-Moore

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