The G20 Co-branded Event discussed Adolescent Health and Well-being

The G20 Co-branded Event discussed Adolescent Health and Well-being

“Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth, those who care for and protect our people.”

by Nelson Mandela

With the notion of this quote, a Townhall session for the G20 Co-branded Event on Adolescent Health and Well-Being features a keynote speech from Dr. V.K. Paul, a health member of NITI Aayog. As a collaborative effort by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, NITIAnyog and Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), this session was held on 20th June 2023.
Conducted in the “Health of Youth – Wealth of Nation” event, the key speaker Dr. V. K. Paul highlighted the importance of healthy eating and issues surrounding sexual, reproductive, and mental health among adolescents. He stated that this age group is very critical for India and we should review, refine and upgrade the health care for these individuals. And this can only begin at schools which should act as generators and promoters of health.

Key Highlights

During the session, Dr Paul provided important insights and details which are discussed as follows. For starters, Dr Paul stressed the importance of the Internet in daily life by saying that Internet usage is essential. Although it has changed some lives for the better, like most things, it is not without flaws. He emphasized the risks of AI’s influence on personal life and stated that it’s time to start a new discussion about proper and excessive internet use with parents, schools, and the media.

For families and society, progress should be made through education, moderation, and norms. However, the effect of artificial intelligence can also be harmful, therefore students must have access to counselling, treatment, and assistance as needed. Dr Paul stressed that we need to consider a collaborative reaction to deal with the difficulties that technology is posing that we have never seen before.

Elaborating further, Dr. Paul stated that at the societal level, we must normalize good eating habits and conversations on topics like sexual, reproductive, and mental health. He also emphasized a neglected area in health care, the importance of sleep and its impact on health.

He continued with his speech by providing information about the Ministry of Health and Niti Aayog’s efforts to assess, improve, and modernize care for adolescents. All countries, but especially India, where we have created national goals for the next 25 years, must pay close attention to this age group. The integration of services, counseling, and wellness in schools, according to Dr Paul, is crucial. To create a school health programme that meets the demands of the kids today and contains aspects to improve their well-being, he invited the youth delegates.

Other Speakers

The other honourable speakers who facilitated the first session are listed as follows:

  • Youth Ambassadors (both from India and Overseas)
  • Dr Flavia Bustreo, Board Member of PMNCH
  • Dr Pratima Murthy, Director of NIMHANS
  • Dr Kapil Yadav, AIIMS
  • Professor Yatan Balhara, AIIMS
  • CEO Githinji Gitahi, AMREF Africa
  • Amy Ucello (Senior Adolescent and Youth Technical Expert), USAID
  • Country Representative Andrea Wojnar, UNFPA India
  • Director of Family Planning Ann Starrs, BMGF

The town hall meeting highlighted issues affecting young people’s health, including cyberbullying, menstrual hygiene, and mental health. Youth ambassadors from both India and overseas shared personal accounts of these obstacles and discussed potential solutions to make them more manageable in different parts of the world.

The speakers agreed that spreading awareness and resources is necessary to reach a breakthrough because the stigma surrounding these topics severely hampers development. Although stigma can be broken through conversations in places like this, victims throughout the world “speak the language of silence.”

Youth leaders also discussed some success stories including the creation of new items from garbage and counselling services that increased girls’ awareness of menstrual hygiene. These stories also highlighted the need for coordinated efforts from all stakeholders to make a much bigger impact.

Mental Health Care

There were also two panel talks. Eminent health professionals examined many aspects of health in the first session of the Centre staging, which focused on adolescents’ and young people’s health and well-being. Dr Kapil Yadav emphasized the significance of eating healthily while referring to the national government’s Eat Right initiative. He also emphasized that adolescence is the ideal age for instilling healthy eating habits that establish the groundwork for long-term good health.

In addition to praising India’s political stance in bringing this issue to light in conjunction with its G20 Presidency, Dr Flavia Bustreo, urged for intersectoral cooperation and the use of India’s G20 Presidency as a forum to provide sustainable solutions for boosting resources and capacities for the youth, explaining that health spans a wide range of issues and challenges for young people.

Dr Pratima Murthy referred to the stigma associated with mental health issues that prevent patients from receiving proper medical care. Participants focused their discussions on modifying best practices to develop a supportive environment and expand acceptance in society, enabling access to the necessary resources.

Second Session and Closing Ceremony

The second session, “Multi-sectoral Partnerships for Engagement of Adolescents and Young People for Health and Well-Being,” explored a variety of thought-provoking topics, such as the intersection and confluence of different sectors on adolescents, highlighting the fact that adolescents’ well-being goes beyond the health sector and thus the necessity of a multilateral approach.

Stakeholders from a variety of fields, including academia, business, the community, and others, came up to discuss the value of incorporating ideas from many fields and develop programmes to ensure a complete outlook with the audience. Institutional inclusion has proven to play a crucial role in influencing the allocation of resources and communications to the last mile as well as in influencing the major stakeholders’ gathering of local viewpoints.

The event’s Joint Secretary, Shri Ashok Babu, concluded by thanking the eminent speakers, participants, and audience. He praised the conversations and the useful information learned, emphasising that these debates highlighted important perspectives for developing policies and the development of the country.

Senior representatives from the Health Ministry, non-governmental organisations, forums, and partner organisations like the Gates Foundation, UNFPA, USAID, WHO, and UNICEF, as well as youth role models from G-20 countries, were also present.
Summary: On 20th June 2023, an insightful G20 co-branded event about Adolescent Health and well-being was covering important issues such as eating habits, artificial intelligence, the internet, sexual and reproductive health, sustainable solutions and mental health from esteemed speakers in their fields.

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