Adolescent and Youth Health in the ECOWAS Region: WAHO and its partners begin validation of situational analysis methodology and tools

A workshop on the validation of the situation analysis methodology and tools was held on 23 and 24 July, in the Conference Room of the WAHO, in Bobo-Dioulasso The workshop was launched by the WAHO Director General, Dr Xavier Crespin, with the Consultant and senior officials of the institution in attendance.

The workshop was the culmination of collaborative work between WAHO and its partners who have been working to develop guidelines for preparing and updating integrated country strategies for the provision of health care appropriate for adolescents and young people in ECOWAS. The institution has embarked on a situational analysis of Adolescent and Youth Health in ECOWAS for the purpose. The next main stages in the process consist in : collection of data on the health of adolescents and young people in the ECOWAS region; writing and validation of the situational analysis ; preparation of the guide followed by its validation and dissemination. The need to prepare a guide became apparent when it was observed that half of the world’s population, around 3 billion people, is under 25 years old. The number of young people (10-24 years) is currently about 100 million and this figure is expected to reach 132 million by 2025 and nearly 217 million by 2050.

The population of ECOWAS was estimated at over 320 million in 2012 with more than half (52.6%) living in Nigeria. The region is experiencing strong growth with all countries, except Cape Verde, recording more than 2% growth yearly. According to the 2014 World Health Statistics, the highest demographic growth rates were recorded by Niger (3.7%), Gambia (3.2%), Liberia (3.1%), Mali (3.1%) and Benin (3%). Another striking feature of the population of West Africa is that it is made up mostly of young people. The median age varies between 15 years (Niger) and 23 years (Cape Verde). In other words, more than half of West Africa’s population is under 23 years old.

The vast majority of young people have specific health needs that must be taken into account when developing policies or adopting development policies. When this is done, there is a greater guarantee that they will be able to grow and develop to achieve their full potential and will be able to make that crucial contribution to the sustainable development of their nation.