World health report

Executive summary

Older children and adolescents

Adolescence is a crucial time in the cycle of human development with implications for individual and public health. The main objective of WHO's general approach has been to expand the knowledge base for adolescent health and development, to understand the meaning, parameters and status of adolescent physical, psychological and social health, and to elucidate the specific actions that will promote the health and development of young people in all societies. The main results so far have been the dissemination of vital information, and publicizing priority needs.

The World Health Assembly in 1989 called on Member States to provide resources and develop programmes to meet the health needs of young people. A number of databases on major health issues for young people were established, including sexual reproductive health.

The key to promoting health in children of school-age and adolescents is health education in the school setting. The WHO Global School Health Initiative recommends that the school environment must provide safe water and sanitary facilities; protect from infectious diseases; protect from discrimination, harassment, abuse and violence; and reject the use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs. Every school must enable children and adolescents at all levels to learn critical health and life skills so that they can make healthy choices and adopt healthy behaviour throughout their lives.