Health Desk -19 Msr, 2021: Over the past two decades, the epidemiology of global child health has changed markedly, alongside our understanding of what works to improve the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents. As countries seek to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of papers published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) supplement calls for a substantial evolution in this thinking, to meet the changing needs of all of today’s young people.
Trends show that preventable deaths are now highest in the newborn period, though pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria, compounded by malnutrition, continue to take a heavy toll on children under the age of five. This is particularly the case among the most marginalized populations in countries of sub-Saharan Africa- where the child population is expected to grow in the coming decades.
In some countries, however, mortality is increasing in older adolescents (15-19 years) due to road traffic accidents, interpersonal violence and self-harm. An increasing number of children and adolescents survive, but are affected by injuries, developmental disabilities, non-communicable diseases and poor mental health. Overweight and obesity among children and young people are rapidly on the rise, as many countries face a double burden of malnutrition from both under and over-nutrition.