Commitment to Youth: Involvement and Advocacy

IAAH’s strategic goals include advocacy on behalf of adolescents around the world, and to encourage adolescent to get involved and advocate on their own behalf. With financial support from our members and thanks to grant support from the AstraZeneca Young Health Programme, we have been able to better support the IAAH Young Professionals Network (YPN) and also directly engage with youth through both youth-led activities (International Adolescent Health Week – Youth Ambassadors) and youth-serving organizations. The following activities are a sample of our ongoing work to promote adolescent health and well-being with young people and the organizations that support them.

Direct engagement with youth was our focus for the 2022 year’s International Youth Day. In celebration of International Youth Day this past August 10th, IAAH held an online world youth meeting/intergenerational dialogue. In collaboration with ORAS-CONHU, the Andean Health Agency, a series of critical issues were identified from a global youth consultation and surveys collected from more than 1000 young people. At the dialogue, a young adult or young professional with interest and experience in the area held a discussion with an older expert to explore the dimensions of the issue and discuss potential solutions, with real-time input from nearly 400 young people in both English and Spanish. The issues explored included mental health, sexual and reproductive rights, citizenship, healthy lifestyles, youth development and life plans, and climate change. Speakers included IAAH Regional Vice Presidents Mauricio Scarpello (Latin America) and Adesola (Daisy) Olumide (Sub-Saharan Africa), along with IAAH Special Advisor and ORAS-CONHU Executive Director María del Carmen Calle Dávila, IAAH YPN Co-Chair Melis Pehlivantürk-Kizilkan, and YPN Communications Committee Co-Chair Ruby Diaz Arotoma.  These sessions were recorded and are available at (Spanish) and (English).

Following International Youth Day, IAAH Regional Vice President Risa Turetsky (North America), participated in the 3-day United Nations/AFS 27th Annual Youth Assembly in New York, USA.  Speaking on a panel tasked with the question, “How can we achieve equitable access to healthcare and prevent non-communicable diseases?”, Turetsky addressed mental health, school health, and other critical issues important to providing young people the support they need to thrive and succeed. She also highlighted IAAH’s commitment to youth participation.

International Adolescent Health Week (IAHW) recently completed the call for applications and selected the 2023 cohort of youth ambassadors. IAAH Special Advisor, Laura Offutt, Director IAHW, reported that 28 young people from 22 different countries will serve as IAHW 2023 ambassadors. They will be responsible for advising the IAHW committee, and planning and leading activities and events for IAHW in their communities that celebrate young people and work toward improving the health and well-being of young people around the world. We encourage you to reach out to your youth ambassador to help promote and support their efforts in 2023.

Nicola Gray, IAAH Regional Vice President – Europe

In September, on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, UNESCO, WHO, and UNICEF held a Transforming Education Summit. Nicola Gray, IAAH European Vice President, who also serves as IAAH liaison and UNESCO chair for global health and education, participated in preparatory meetings for the summit, and will help coordinate IAAH follow-up on school health issues. School mental health and health promotion in schools was further featured in a session during the UN high-level meetings on September 21st, in New York, led by UNICEF and the government of Thailand.

October highlights our participation in the Partnership for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent Health (PMNCH), and will see a kick-off event launching the PMNCH Youth Forum and Call to Action for Adolescent Well-being at the end of this month. The call to action includes opportunities for funders, professional societies, and national governments to make new commitments to improving adolescent health and well-being (see the figure for how adolescent health and well-being are being defined). IAAH President Jonathan Klein serves on the Global Coordinating Committee for the Forum, and IAAH Special Advisor Laura Offutt (IAHW Director, North America), IAAH Regional Vice President Fadia AlBurhairan (Middle East and North Africa) and YPN Co-Chair Molly O’Sullivan (Oceania) have been appointed to the Communications and Partnerships, Programme, and Digital Experience working subcommittees, respectively. The Call to Action and Forum will build involvement over the coming year, growing towards a global event in October 2023.  Please follow IAAH to stay connected to opportunities to support advocacy for governments and other stakeholders to make new and accountable commitments to improving adolescent health and well-being.

The YPN will also be bring attention to World Mental Health Day by hosting a webinar, “Innovations in Global Adolescent Mental Health.” This webinar, featuring Dr. Merrian Brooks, Manasi Gupta (YPN Leadership and Mentorship Committee) and Michael Jimenez, who will review the current state of adolescent mental health and discuss avenues for future research, methods, and interventions. The YPN is a community of students, trainees, and early career professionals who are interested and committed to improving the health of adolescents locally, nationally, and globally. With over 800 members, the network is a vibrant community of individuals aiming to build relationships, provide opportunities, and use their collective voices to advocate for adolescent health and well-being. Click here for more YPN information.

In celebration of World Mental Health Day (Oct 10) the International Association for Adolescent Health – Young Professionals Network is thrilled to invite you to join us on Sunday, October 9th at 3:00 pm BST for the webinar – Innovations in Adolescent Mental Health.

Sunday, October 9th, 2022
EDT 10:00 – 11:00 am
BST 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Click here to register!

Feature image by Chang Duong on Unsplash

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