Failure to increase investment in adolescent well-being could have a staggering economic cost

Africa Science News

Today’s adolescents, aged 10–19 years, face unprecedented challenges amidst a rapidly evolving world, according to a new report calling for greater investments in adolescent well-being. The report, released at the 77th World Health Assembly, was commissioned by The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), working with Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies of Victoria University in Australia, WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA.

The report finds that failure by all stakeholders to substantially increase investment in programmes targeted at improving adolescent well-being would result in a staggering economic cost, with potential global losses amounting to an estimated USD 110 trillion (benefits foregone) from 2024 to 2050.

This equates to USD 4.1 trillion per year, or 7.7% of the GDP of the countries included in the research for the report, which covers about 80% of the world’s population.

“With just about five years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, progress lagging, and the adolescent population increasing, the urgency of investing in adolescents’ well-being cannot be overstated,” says Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and PMNCH Board Chair.

“A multi-pronged and multisectoral approach to investment – anchored in meaningful adolescent and youth engagement, accountability, transparency, and multi-stakeholder collaboration is crucial,” she commented, adding that “the time for action is now to ensure that today’s adolescents can thrive and contribute positively to future generations.”

The benefits of investing in adolescent well-being, however, are significant, with benefit to cost ratios (BCRs) in most cases showing economic and social returns at least 10 times the initial investment, and in many cases significantly higher. It has recently been estimated that a broad package of health services for adolescents is likely to give a return of USD 9.6 for every dollar invested; while investing in education and training for adolescents is likely to give a return of USD 28.6 for every dollar invested.

Commenting, Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)said, “empowered with skills and opportunities, young people will put us on course to a more sustainable world for all.”

Catherine Russell, Executive Director, UNICEF,says, “Evidence shows that investing in adolescent girls is a game-changer for everyone.

“With resources and opportunities, the world’s 600 million adolescent girls can become the largest generation of women leaders and change-makers the world has ever seen,” said Russell.

While progress has been made in some areas of improving adolescent well-being, significant challenges persist, placing the well-being of adolescents at risk.


Share This Article