Connect for Youth Health: Coordination and partnerships strengthened for better adolescents and youth health in Ethiopia

On the 20th of August 2020, thousands of youth across all corners of Ethiopia joined online on the First Ethiopian Youth Health Forum under the theme “Connect for Youth Health”. The national gathering, graced by the presence of H.E. President Sahle Work Zewidie, was a euphoria by itself for the youth to discuss their own concerns, the active and meaningful engagement in the design, implementation, follow up and review of health policies and strategies, at the national, regional and global levels.  Particularly, the forum aimed to engaging the young people through dialogues to explore ways of promoting better health outcomes for adolescents and youth in Ethiopia.  Adolescents and youth in Ethiopia are the largest section of the population, constituting nearly 70%.

“Tomorrow’s Ethiopia is better than today’s Ethiopia because you, the youth of today are the strength, the peacemakers and the engine of development. Youth health is a nations’ health”, stated H.E. President Sahle-Work Zewdie, in  her  pre-recorded message in support of youth and youth health.

The Ministry of Health, the Maternal and Child Health Directorate of Ethiopia together with UNESCO and other partners organized the first ever National Adolescent and Youth Health Forum. The forum strengthened the coordination and the partnership of organizations working on youth development to ensure multi-sectoral response and raised awareness on the risk and vulnerability of youth development and the response to COVID-19.

During the forum, participants discussed the current policy frameworks and promoted innovative, institutionalised approaches and initiatives for advancing the adolescent and youth health agenda at the national level. Targeted interventions required to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on young people in particular were explored.

Among the innovative approaches to advance adolescents and youth health, those initiatives developed by young people were shared. These benefited key stakeholders by exchanging views on youth development and engagement trends. More importantly, the forum helped with identifying pathways and means to support adolescents and youth to surmount challenges they face, which could contribute to the implementation of health programs and policies.

UNESCO, as part of its Education for Health and Well-being Project funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is a member of the Adolescent and Youth Health technical working group of the Ministry of Health. Taking into account the Adolescent and Youth Health Agenda that requires coordination, creative thinking and joint response, UNESCO took part in organizing this important workshop. Following this successful forum, UNESCO will continue working with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health to support the two ministries ensure the health of the adolescents and youth of Ethiopia.

If you wish to know more information on the forum and UNESCO’s activities concerning health and well-being for youth, please visit the links below:

Ethiopian Youth Health Forum: http://www.ethioyouth.org/

UNESCO Education for health and well-being: https://en.unesco.org/themes/health-education

UNESCO Strategy on Education for Health and Well-being: Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000246453

UNESCO Young People Today Initiative: https://www.youngpeopletoday.org/

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