In April 2020, the Journal of Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters published the above commentary which was in response to a paper published in the Lancet last year entitled: “Progress in adolescent health and well-being: tracking 12 headline indicators for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2016” (Peter Azzopardi et al, 2019).

In our commentary, my coauthors and I agreed with the authors’ overall conclusions that although there has been progress in some health outcomes, health risks and social determinants, the situation has worsened in other areas. We then highlighted other important messages that emerge from studying the data with an adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR) lens.

First, notable – albeit uneven – progress in all the ASRHR indicators has occurred in multi-burden countries. Second, while we cannot assign a cause-effect relationship, it is reasonable to suggest that in addition to secular trends, deliberate global and national investment and action have contributed to and/or accelerated these changes. Third, progress in ASRHR in the multi-burden countries contrasts sharply with increases in rates of tobacco use, binge drinking and overweight and obesity, in all categories of countries.

Based on these observations, we set out five implications for action: the adolescent health community must recognize the progress made in ASRHR; acknowledge that increasing investment and action in ASRHR has contributed to these tangible results, which has the potential to grow; build on the gains in ASRHR through concerted action and a focus on implementation science; expand the adolescent health agenda in a progressive and strategic manner; and contribute to wider efforts to respond to adolescents’ health and wellbeing.

We have put together the key messages of the paper in the attached slide set. We invite you to read, share and discuss the paper and the slide set.

Download the Slide Set (PDF)