On International Youth Day, FP2020 is joining the International Association of Adolescent Health (IAAH) to call on countries, communities and clinicians to protect and support the health and wellbeing of adolescents throughout the pandemic response. First and foremost is to ensure adolescents are able to obtain quality health information and services. This must include sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services so that adolescents can prevent, delay, or space a pregnancy, and avoid sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Continued inattention to identifying and addressing their health and social needs will have far-reaching consequences for adolescents as well as their families and communities.
This statement was developed by FP2020 and IAAH, with input from global professional associations of health care providers (listed below). In addition, the World Health Organization Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research (WHO/SRH) and UNFPA contributed to the technical content and review of this statement. It is intended to be a resource that health-care workers can use to raise awareness of the needs of adolescents, and to spur actions that minimize risks and vulnerabilities. Health-care providers are respected leaders in their communities and are well positioned to facilitate such efforts, along with parents, teachers, religious leaders and young people themselves.
The scope and scale of the current pandemic is unprecedented. Although older adults are most likely to
experience acute health consequences of COVID-19, there is still much that is unknown about the health
effects of COVID-19 over the long-term. The pandemic will have a profound impact on today’s adolescents as they experience new risks and adapt to the loss of critical protective factors such as school attendance, peer networks, supportive adults, and access to quality health information and services.
Countries have been slow to scale up adolescent responsive services, and in many instances continue to implement ineffective approaches. The pandemic means that quality SRH services for adolescents are even less likely to be available as countries target limited resources towards overt health needs. Yet it is also anticipated that the COVID-19 crisis will spark innovative responses. Adolescent health care providers and professional associations are important allies in ensuring that adolescents are centered in the full range of current and future responses that protect and improve adolescents’ health including their sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing.
Here are some immediate ways how FP2020 recommends to use the statement: