Health

1.2 Million Deaths Among Adolescents Could Have Been Prevented: WHO Report

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regEvery day, more than 3,000 teenagers lose their lives, bringing up the annual death toll to almost 1.2 million, revealed the World Health Organization in a report published on May 16.

A large proportion of these demises could have been prevented through access to good health services, education and social support, says the WHO report.

“Adolescents have been entirely absent from national health plans for decades,” said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director-general, in a news release.

“Relatively small investments focused on adolescents now will not only result in healthy and empowered adults who thrive and contribute positively to their communities, but it will also result in healthier future generations, yielding enormous returns,” she added.

Top 5 Global Causes Of Death In Adolescents

According to WHO statistics, the leading cause of death among adolescents worldwide is road traffic injuries, which claimed more than 115,000 lives in 2015.

Lower respiratory infections are listed as the second cause of life loss in 10- to 19-year-olds, accounting for more than 72,000 deaths.

An additional 67,000 teenagers all around the world die every year due to self-harm — both intentional and accidental teen suicide.

High death rates also stem from diarrheal diseases, which cause more than 63,000 teenage deaths on a global scale, followed by drowning — totaling another 57,000 demises among adolescents.

When separated by age, sex, and region, however, the leading causes of death differ significantly, shows the WHO report.

For instance, two-thirds of deaths among adolescents occur in Southeast Asia and Africa. Here, in low- and middle-income countries, teenagers are more vulnerable to communicable diseases — such as HIV/AIDS viral infections, lower respiratory infections, meningitis, and diarrheal diseases — which give rise to substantially more life loss than road injuries.

Leading Death Causes Among Teenage Boys

Road crash injuries are particularly prevalent in boys aged 15 to 19, uncovered the WHO report, which states the victims are in most cases pedestrians and cyclists.

More than 88,500 young males lose their lives in traffic accidents every year, most fatalities occurring in poorer countries in Europe, the Americas and the Eastern Mediterranean region.



“In only a small proportion are they the driver,” noted Dr. David Ross, WHO medical officer and report co-author, who also specified male adolescents who die behind the wheel typically come from high-income countries.

Interpersonal violence, such as physical or sexual abuse, or emotional threats, is the second leading cause of death among teenage boys, killing more than 42,000 10- to 19-year-olds annually.

Top Death Causes Among Young Girls Worldwide

On a global scale, most teenage girls between 10 and 14 succumb to lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, says the report.

More than seven in every 100,000 girls in this age group die every year from these infections, which the WHO analysis attributes to indoor air pollution, such as exposure to polluting cooking fuels.

On the other hand, older girls, aged 15 to 19, are at greater risk of death from pregnancy complications, childbirth or unsafe abortions.

“Some 11% of all births worldwide are to girls aged 15-19 years, and the vast majority of these births are in low- and middle-income countries,” disclosed the WHO in a fact sheet related to the report.

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