KATHMANDU, May 8: Nepal consists of 23 percent adolescents (10-19 years) of its total population of 29 million. However, the country has not given priority to their health concerns, experts speaking at a function organized to unveil a revised strategy on adolescent health on Tuesday said.
According to the Family Health Division (FHD), 2,261 male and 1,447 female adolescents die annually in Nepal. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates adolescent mortality rate is 90.5 per 100,000 adolescents in Nepal.
“The situation is very serious but the government has not allocated special funds and programs for such a large and active population of the country,” said Dr RP Bichha, director at the FHD.
In 2000, the government formulated a strategy to address the issues of adolescent health. The government launched an adolescence-friendly corner program 10 years ago involving every health post in the country. However, the program was ineffective due to poor implementation and absence of monitoring mechanism, according to officials.
Road injury, leukemia, drowning, rabies, respiratory infections, self-harm, inter-personal violence, diarrheal diseases, maternal condition, and tuberculosis have been identified as the major causes of adolescent deaths.
The death rate from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancer, coronary, hypertension and diabetes are increasing in the country. Of all deaths, 60 to 70 percent deaths are caused by NCDs, according to experts.
“If we give priority to adolescent health, the risk of NCDs in people will significantly decrease,” said Dr Bichha.
Many adolescent diseases and injury burdens are preventable or treatable but are often neglected. Over two thirds of adolescent deaths occur in low and middle income countries in Africa (45 percent) and South-East Asia (26 percent).
The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) will coordinate with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) to implement the new strategy, according to Dr Bichha.
“MoEST has already conceived a plan to appoint one nurse at every school. Now we are planning to set up adult family clinic at 1,131 health centers across the country,” he said.