World Population Day Highlights Need for Reproductive Health, AIDS Education, Services Among Adolescents
In a message commemorating World Population Day, the theme of which is "One billion adolescents: the right to health, information and services," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that young people need such information in order "to lead safe, rewarding lives and contribute to the well-being of their families and communities" (U.N. release, 7/11). Half of the world's 6.3 billion people are under the age of 25, and more than one billion are between the ages of 10 and 19, the largest youth population in human history (United Nations Population Fund release, 7/11). Annan said that with education, women are more likely to marry later, have fewer children and have healthy and better educated children, who can pass on those benefits to the next generation. Annan also said that information and services are "crucial" in the fight against HIV/AIDS -- especially in those countries already hit hard by the epidemic -- because if young people know how HIV is transmitted they can protect themselves from infection (U.N. release, 7/11). Half of all new HIV infections occur among young people. However, by "educating, empowering and mobilizing young people, we can turn the AIDS epidemic around," UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said. She added, "Young people have a right to reproductive health information and services. Studies repeatedly show that education about sexuality and reproduction does not increase irresponsible behavior. On the contrary, it helps young people to make responsible, healthy decisions" (UNFPA release, 7/11). The UNFPA World Population Day Web site provides additional information regarding the day and events that are taking place worldwide (UNFPA Web site, 7/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.