KIGALI, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Health experts from across Africa region on Tuesday called for concerted efforts to tackle issues that affect adolescent's health on the continent and help them build capacity and seize opportunities.
They were speaking at the World Health Organization (WHO) regional meeting on newborn, child and adolescent health in East and Southern Africa that opened on Tuesday in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.
Rwanda hosts the forum from Oct. 10 to 13 that aims at assessing achievements and challenges affecting infants and teenagers in Sub-Saharan Africa in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to WHO, more than 3,000 adolescents worldwide die unnecessarily every day from preventable causes. In 2015, nearly two-thirds of these deaths occurred in low-income and middle-income countries, with 45 percent and 26 percent of the deaths occurring in Africa and South-East Asia respectively, it said.
"Improved child and adolescent health is key towards achieving SDG targets. We need to redouble our efforts to improve health of adolescents and youth as well as their development," said Felicitas Zawaira, Director, Family and Reproductive Health Cluster, WHO Regional Office for Africa.
She said young women and adolescent girls face more obstacles than young men and boys in seizing opportunities and enjoying their rights stressing that a more comprehensive health approach should be introduced to address challenges affecting adolescents across the continent.
"It is urgent to invest more in adolescents' health because these young people represent the future Africa," Zawaira added.
According to WHO, adolescents in the African region represent about 23 percent of the population with several specific needs when it comes to their health.
WHO's new Adolescent Health Flagship program supports countries to develop strategies and implement evidence-based interventions among young people.
The interventions include improving immunization coverage, tackling substance abuse, treating mental health, offering reproductive and sexual health services, and preventing accidents and injuries.
For inclusive economic growth and sustainable development on the continent, issues affecting young people must be addressed, said Diane Gashumba, Rwandan minister of health.
The meeting argued that realizing the potential of the youth to contribute to the economic growth and development of Africa, their health must be greatly improved.