Health indicators on adolescents reveal disparity and inequality on regional and national levels

BMC Public Health. 2021 May 28;21(1):1006. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10989-1.


BACKGROUND: Health status in adolescents is difficult to evaluate and compare horizontally, vertically and longitudinally among different regions and nations of the world.

METHODS: With repeated surveys conducted with relatively uniformed standards, the UNICEF Data warehouse compiles and publishes a wide spectrum of health indicators, of which data analysis and visualization would reveal the underlying statuses and trends on global, regional and national levels.

RESULTS: Apparent geographic disparity is present in that sub-Saharan African countries lag far behind their counterparts in other regions with regard to most health indicators on adolescents. Education attendance rates sequentially drop from primary to secondary school levels, and display correlation with youth literacy. Harmful practices of early marriage, early childbearing and female genital mutilation have decreased but the presences of peer violence and sexual violence are worthy of attentions. Although incidence and mortality rates of HIV/AIDS have dropped (most notably in sub-Saharan Africa), adolescents’ HIV/AIDS awareness remains suboptimal in selected countries. Cumulative COVID-19 cases and deaths in the adolescents are comparable to the children but relatively lower than the adult and senior groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings on the health indicators of adolescents until 2019 reveal the most recent status quo for reference right before the hit of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Progresses made on the various health indicators as well as the associated disparity and inequality underlie the remaining gaps to fill for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

PMID:34049513 | DOI:10.1186/s12889-021-10989-1