Children and adolescents deserve a better future

The Lancet
Jan 08, 2022 Volume 399 Number 1032 0p117-210, e1


Children and adolescents deserve a better future
The Lancet
In January, 2020, we announced a Lancet campaign on child and adolescent health. Our intention was to refocus on child mortality, and on the recognition that adolescents matter in global health, at a time when progress had stalled or in some cases reversed amid changing political and environmental circumstances. Little did we know then what the next 2 years would bring.

COVID-19 has been—and still is—a catastrophe for children and young people. In a December report, UNICEF called the pandemic “the biggest threat to children in our 75-year history”. Widespread school and university closures mean that there is now an unprecedented educational and skills deficit globally, with inequities widening and disadvantaged children and adolescents falling even further behind. Digital learning works only for those who have supportive home environments, internet access, and teachers capable of effective online teaching. According to UNICEF, two-thirds of children and young people do not have an internet connection at home…

…National policy makers and the international community have dismally failed to protect children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the new wave of infections with the omicron (B.1.1.529) variant, further school closures are happening again. Vaccination of children is slow at best, with confusing messages and bewildering national differences in recommendations. Clearly, decisions made for our children and young people without their say have been detrimental. Yet, out of such catastrophic times, real transformative change might emerge. Young people want a different world. They want not only to be heard in advocacy roles or have a seat at the table, they want to take part in decision making and policy development. Children in All Policies 2030 (CAP-2030), which aims to put the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents at the centre of sustainable development following the recommendations of a 2020 WHO–UNICEF–Lancet Commission, is helping to give a voice to young people. But a global shift towards true involvement needs much more…