SAHM 2015 Annual Meeting

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Four of our Commissioners, George Patton, Russell Viner, Susan Sawyer and John Santelli are currently in attendance and presenting at the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) Annual meeting in Los Angeles, California, which takes place from the 18-21 March.

On Thursday 19th March, George, Russell, Susan and John will be conducting a plenary session on “Adolescents and the Global Health Transition.” Read below for a description of the plenary session.

Plenary Session I: Adolescents and the Global Health Transition

Description: After decades of neglect, adolescent health has emerged as a more pressing agenda in international development. Sexual and reproductive health has until recently been the major focus in a global context, with both HIV and maternal mortality the main targets.  Yet increasingly there is recognition that adolescents are central to every major challenge in global health. Most mental disorders begin before 25 years of age. Risks for cancer and cardiovascular disease in later life commonly start in adolescence (e.g. tobacco and alcohol use), or intensify during these years (e.g. overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet). Injuries rise sharply during the teenage years and account for a higher proportion of deaths in adolescents than in any other age group.

Despite major technical advances and improvements in supply chains in areas like family planning and treatment of HIV, adolescents have failed to see the gains we might have expected from a narrow focus on these areas. One reason lies in a need to tackle the rapidly shifting social determinants of adolescent health.  Another is a recognition that areas of current focus such as sexual and reproductive health, are intimately linked to other health problems including mental health, violence, and substance abuse.  In moving to effective action there is a need for more integrated approaches.

For this reason, The Lancet has partnered with a range of academic institutions (University of Melbourne, University College London, London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Washington and Columbia University) to establish a Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing. The Commission consists of 26 members from 14 countries, spanning Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America, the Middle East, and South America. It brings together disciplines including public health, education, medicine, economics, political and social science, behavioural science, and neuroscience together with young people to consider strategies to advance adolescent health. This session draws on some of the Commission’s work with presentations from three of the Commissioners who are leading specific areas.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe current global patterns of health and disease and how they differ across the global sub-regions.
  2. Appreciate the role of sound health data for policy and programming in global adolescent health including the currently available sources of information on adolescent health.
  3. Relate the role of protective systems, to the promotion of adolescent health across the world.
  4. Identify opportunities for the development of more coordinated health responses that are matched to the needs of adolescents in a country or region.

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