While much progress has been made to improve the health of women and children around the world, growing health disparities exist among women, children and adolescents. Currently, the child mortality rate in low-income countries is 15 times higher than in high income countries. Maternal mortality rates are doubled with a rate thirty times higher in lower-income countries. Adolescents face extreme risks to their health, such as road injuries, complications during pregnancy and mental health issues among others. In fact, 70% of all preventable adult deaths are linked to issues experienced during adolescents. These statistics are staggering and the need to improve health outcomes is significant. Financing is needed to fund sustainable health development initiatives. As the need continues to grow, it seems as though more and more organizations, governments and other entities are competing for the same resources and funding.
The question remains: What health investments make financial sense?
Over fifty percent of the world’s population is under 30 years old. In addition to the time adolescents and young adults spend on studying and working, young people are also working tirelessly to build effective and sustainable movements to improve women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. How are they accomplishing this? Through serving their own communities. Their initiatives are sustainable because their ideas are owned and led by them. With limited resources, they are creating significant strides to increase maternal and child survival rates and working with their peers to ensure adolescents have access to youth-friendly health services.
There are so many powerful examples of young people leading change for health in their communities. Women LEAD Nepal‘s young leaders are working diligently to prepare school supply kits. Since the earthquake in April, these young women have traveled across dusty roads through wreckage and debris to give much needed school supplies to high school students. This relatively low-cost solution ensures high school students were equipped for their exams, which in turn can potentially have positive impacts on the mental well-being of some of these students. On the other side of the globe, Memory Banda, an eighteen year old girl champion from Malawi who recently gave a powerful TED Talk, has built a movement to end child marriage and speak out for girls’ in her country and throughout Africa. These are only two examples of so many young people building sustainable health movements.
Young people are using the most powerful resource they possess: Their voices.
As the world is about to adopt a new set of sustainable development goals, global financing to improve women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health is central to the conversation. This week, world leaders, organizations, governments are convening to talk about financing for international development. The Global Financing Facility (GFF) is one proposed high-level mechanism which aims to channel financing to prevent 3.8 million maternal deaths, 101 million child deaths and 21 million stillbirths in 63 high-burden countries by 2030. A major challenge with this high-level funding is whether the dollars and cents will actually trickle down to fund grassroots health initiatives.
Investing in youth led local solutions to improve the health and well being of women, children and adolescents makes literal CENTS. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also the financially and economically sensible thing to do. The investment young people make in their communities is invaluable. The evidence is clear. The question should not be how can we mobilize youth-led health solutions. They are already creating change in their countries. The question is how much will we invest in their ideas and solutions for improving health outcomes in their communities. As a global community, we need to consider how to effectively channel the right resources in order to fund and ensure their ideas are implemented effectively and brought to scale. We need to continue to provide spaces and tools for young people to share about the work they are doing to improve the health of women, children and adolescents’ around the world. The stories of youth grassroots movements must reach the eyes and ears of donors, governments, organizations, individuals and private funders.
Learn more and participate in an interactive conversation tomorrow, July 13th at 10amEDT with youth advocate, Tikhala Itaye, Vice President of AfriYAN Namibia and Her Liberty Namibia.
Here are a few things you can do today
- Support young women leaders in Nepal through Women LEAD Nepal
- Check out and share our latest youth-led G+ Hangout
- Raise awareness by using the share buttons below
Learn more about the Global Financing Facility