Addressing adolescents’ health issues for Sustainable Development

Nairobi, KENYA 24 November 2017 – The second Adolescent Health Symposium was held in Nairobi to address the myriad issues affecting adolescent health.

Health stakeholders and adolescents from 47 counties attended the joint symposium dubbed “Fast Tracking Adolescent Health for the demographic dividend.”

The symposium was opened by the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr. Cleopa Mailu who was represented by the Head of NASCOP, Dr. Kigen Bartilo.

The CS acknowledged that many adolescents face considerable challenges including health risks as a result of social contexts which exert powerful influence over them.

“Adolescents face peer pressure to use alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, to have poor eating habits and to initiate sexual relationships at earlier ages. This puts them at high risk of adverse immediate and chronic health consequences,” said the CS.

Dr. Mailu observed that adolescents experience a higher rate of violence and injuries, self-esteem and adjustment issues, depression and other mental health problems than other age groups. They are also vulnerable to harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, early marriages and sexual and gender-based violence.

The two- day symposium will discuss and make recommendation on very critical thematic areas which include, Leadership and governance for Adolescent Health, Adolescent Health and Education, Adolescent Health and Economics, Adolescent Health Service Delivery and crosscutting issues in Adolescent Health.

The Symposium comes against the backdrop of the successful 1st Kenya National Adolescent Health Symposium which took place in October 2015 under the theme “Evolving challenges in Adolescent Health: Reflecting on the post 2015 sustainable development agenda.”

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya has approximately 9.1 million adolescents aged between 10-19 years which constitutes about 24% of Kenya’s total population.

“This is certainly a large proportion of the population that is at a critical phase of life in terms of human life and economic potential,” said the CS.

Recommendations from the symposium shall guide policy and programs to ensure good adolescents health to enhance productivity.