American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad, Inc. (AYUDA)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad, Inc. (AYUDA)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Youth (17 hits),

Full Submission

Youth and NCDS: Their Role in Sustainable Development

As young people involved within the field of development as it pertains to health, we welcome the opportunity to comment on the Rio +20 Meeting on Sustainable Development.

Here, in light of this meeting and others that touch on similar social, economic and environmental determinants such as UN GA High Level Meeting on NCDs, the Rio World Conference on Social Determinants of Health are our comments regarding the importance of Youth involvement, which we find critical as it relates to health and its impact on development sustainability.

Non-Communicable Diseases or NCDs, including but not limited to diabetes types 1 and 2, cancer, chronic heart disease and asthma, account for 60% of deaths worldwide. The World Economic Forum's 2010 Global Risks Report identifies NCDs as the second most severe threat to the global economy and a global risk equal in cost to the current global financial crisis. NCDs can be especially crippling in low and middle-income countries where they can contribute directly to poverty and other development issues.

Chronic diseases in young people include asthma, diabetes, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, cystic fibrosis, chronic lung disease and some cancers. It has been well documented that the incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes is increasing not just in adults, but also children, particularly in developing countries that previously experienced very low prevalence of the diseases. The challenges of managing these diseases on a day-to-day basis are exacerbated in developing countries where a lack of education at the primary health care level is coupled with poor access to medical supplies (due to poor access to health services, inequities within the health system, insufficient or non-existent drug supply system and inability to pay). These issues can create a heavy negative impact on economic development and sustainability.

Although NCDs affect many young people, most prevention measures are not targeted towards Youth. It is young people who will bear the brunt of the economic, social and emotional burden of NCDs throughout their lives. This is why we see it as critically important to encourage meaningful Youth participation within all global development policy discussions.

To reinforce these points, we include the following goals:

Young people are meaningfully involved in the global policy debate. From global to national settings, world leaders must acknowledge the significant contributions of young people and meaningfully involved them in the policy-making that addresses NCDs. We seek to ensure that Youth are meaningfully included in high-level negotiations and processes. This includes investments in Youth leadership for global, regional and national processes and the inclusion of specific time-bound outcomes related to young people and NCDs in global health policy. Youth inclusion ensures not only representation from a key population, but sustainability as the Youth leaders of today will be the adult leaders of tomorrow.

Include Youth in NCD Prevention design and delivery. The four WHO-identified NCD risk factors - tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical activity, and harmful use of alcohol, as well as mental health conditions, have their roots in adolescence. In order to target this key population in NCD prevention, Youth must be meaningfully involved in the design and delivery of interventions - with a strong focus on peer-to-peer learning and ?for Youth, by Youth? approaches.

Current literature raises awareness of many of the challenges facing people living with chronic disease in developing countries and acknowledges that many factors impact health outcomes. However, many of the recommendations fail to focus on practical interventions or solutions that are replicable in resource-poor settings. There is limited evidence comparing the relative effectiveness of locally-appropriate interventions for managing chronic disease in developing countries, particularly in regards to managing chronic disease in children, a particularly vulnerable group. Abegunde et al. argue in the Lancet Series on chronic disease that there is considerable opportunity for low-cost interventions that could help to curb the growing epidemic of non-communicable disease in developing countries.

AYUDA, (American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad, Inc) has been implementing sustainable low cost programs for children with type 1 diabetes in developing countries in conjunction with local partner organizations for over a decade. By empowering young people living with diabetes to work with and educate other Youth with the same disease, AYUDA has found improved health outcomes for children when compared to alternative interventions in resource poor settings, in particular with regard to psychosocial outcomes. . Cohort data demonstrates improvements in short-term and long-term glycemic control (HbA1c values).

Make NCDs a Human Rights Issue for Youth. From poverty to stigma and discrimination to access of health services, violations of human rights can make young people more vulnerable to NCDs. Young people will, where possible, link NCDs with the issues of human rights to ensure people understand that NCDs are not just about health, but are also an issue of social justice.

Connect communities, countries, conditions and sectors. Young people will make an effort to build a coalition on NCDs that connects young leaders, particularly those most affected, with leaders from all other areas of civil society. The Youth movement will be linked to issues within global, regional and national context. The coalition will be linked to the greater Youth and development movement.
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