13 Aug Little Global Investment in Adolescent Health
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Chunling Lu, PhD
Director, Program in Global Health Economics and Social Change
Assistant Professor in Global Health and Social Medicine
Division of Global Health Equity, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies
Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University
Boston, MA 02115
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Today, we have the largest generation of youth (10-24 years) in human history (1·8 billion) and about 90% of them live in low- and middle-income countries. Healthy growth and learning during the adolescent years underpins future population health and productivity. The importance of adolescent health has now been recognized with the inclusion of adolescents in the 2015 Every Woman, Every Child agenda through the Global Strategy for Women’s Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. A capacity to finance health care has underpinned progress in most areas of health. In poorer countries much of that financing comes from global donors. As little is known about donors’ contribution to adolescent health, our study fills in that knowledge gap by assessing how much development assistance has been disbursed to projects for adolescent health in 132 developing countries between 2003 and 2015.
We found that donors’ contribution to the projects targeting adolescent health cumulatively accounted for only 1.6% of development assistance for health.
Among the top 10 leading causes of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) in adolescents, sexual, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS received the largest donors’ contribution (approximately 68% during the study period), followed by interpersonal violence, tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases.
Other major causes of disease burden, including anemia, road injuries, and depressive disorders, have been largely overlooked by donors.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our findings show that donors invested little in adolescent health, considering the proportion of adolescents in total population (26%) and in disease burden (11%) in the 132 countries. Moreover, of the little invested, resource allocation has not aligned well with either the burden of disease or where the benefits of investment are likely to be high. Taking adolescent health to scale in the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health will require greater allocation of development funds and better targeting.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research shall address the data and methodological limitations in this study by extending analysis to emerging new donors (e.g. China, NGOs) and validating the methods used for allocating general health funds to adolescents. More importantly, research on how to efficiently gather funding and allocate it to cost-effective interventions is in urgent need.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Between 2003 and 2015, the cumulative adolescent-targeted funding per adolescent was the highest in sub-Saharan Africa ($5.37) and lowest in the Western Pacific region ($0.31).
All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.
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