The future of chronic diseases through the eyes of youth

This week I had another article published by Devex, this time on the important role of youth advocates to develop and advance public health policy focused on chronic diseases. The article is part of Devex’s #youthwill campaign, focused on youth’s critical contributions to education, global peace-building, employment, and leadership.

Young people make up nearly half of the world’s population. And even though global health policy-making impacts them — think vaccinations, reproductive health or preventative care — young people far too often don’t have a say in that process.

Credit: Devex
Credit: Devex

On non-communicable or chronic diseases, several youth advocacy groups are pushing to change that.

Currently, the debate on NCD policy is playing out in exclusive circles, including government ministries and institutions like the World Health Organization, World Bank and other United Nations agencies. Young people often encounter barriers, rather than open doors, when trying to access these circles; as a result, NCD policy — especially around prevention — is developed for youth, not with youth.

Traditionally, these organizations will develop ideas and then push them onto young people, seeing millennials and younger generations as less experienced or knowledgeable,” suggested Allesandro Demaio, a global health fellow at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of NCDFREE, a social movement committed to ending preventable deaths from NCDs.

What’s the alternative?

“Don’t engage — include,” Demaio said.

Whether through participation in boards of directors, advisory committees or strategy sessions, young people have something to offer, he added: “They don’t have [fewer] skills, they have different but complementary and essential skills.”

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article


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