Youth Voices in Global Health
Last week marked the celebration of International Youth Day, an opportunity to raise awareness about youth issues worldwide. Ensuring that young people are healthy and developing their full potential represents the heart of CWW’s mission. Our efforts to control and prevent soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections help to bolster the wellbeing of millions of children around the globe. Over 870 million children live in areas where STH are easily transmitted, putting them at risk of stunting, anemia, and other harmful symptoms. In 2012, 95 million school-age children were dewormed, representing 31% of all children at risk of infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target of reaching 75% of all at-risk children by 2020, but efforts must be scaled up in order to meet this goal. Fortunately, new commitments are putting us on track to meet these targets. Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline have pledged to donate up to 600 million doses of deworming medication per year, enough to cover all at-risk school-age children through 2020.
But we're not the only ones working to improve the health of the world's youth; young people all over the world are taking control of their health too. In Bangladesh, “Little Doctors” learn about health issues in a fun way and have been raising awareness about STH since 2010. Through the program, fourth and fifth graders are trained to help their teachers on health promotion days. Using child-to-child education, Little Doctors provide information about personal hygiene, prevention of diseases, and promotion of health. They teach other children, both those who attend school and those who may not, about STH and how to prevent infection. Their outreach also strengthens treatment efforts by encouraging everyone to attend deworming days at schools.