Health governance: how to include youth in decision making?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Mohd Talha Khursheed is an undergraduate medical student at the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, AMU, Aligarh, India. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

As of the recent estimates by the United Nations, the world’s population has clocked 7.9 billion. Out of these, 1.8 billion people fall in the age group of 18-34 that makes around 23% of the world population. Since these people are the ones who are expected to live in the distant future times, it becomes unarguable that they should be the ones who are included in the decision making progress regarding the health infrastructure and facilities for the people.

The growth of the young group in the world has also meant they these people are at a higher risk of contracting infection. For example, a 2015 study reported that every hour 29 adolescents get infected with HIV and 65% of these infection occurred amongst adolescent girls. The rising health concerns have made governments think on how to tackle the peculiar problems faced by the youth and how to involve the young people in decision making processes.

The youth have a fundamental right of being informed, involved and consulted in the decision making process that is of public interest. For the youth participation to be deemed meaningful, young people must get integrated into different aspect of program development and have some decision making power. One way to execute this is the ‘Three Lens Approach’, that sees youth as BENEFICIARIES, as PARTNERS, and as LEADERS.

Youth as Beneficiaries means involving the young as the target group, such that the effects of the implemented actions would directly benefit them. Youth as Partners means to prioritize the collaboration between the young people and the policy makers and finally, youth as Leaders means making a space within the existing governing system that enables and supports youth-led decision making.

There is an urgent need to have more participation from the young and adolescent people in the health related issues. As stated earlier, 23% of the world’s population comes under the ‘youth’ bracket but this group constitutes only 1.6 percent of the parliamentarians worldwide. To resolve this, governments should have a minimum number of parliamentary seats reserved for the age group 25-34. A suitable benchmark must be imposed regarding the educational qualification of such individuals.

To brief, the aim of policymakers today should be to highlight the importance of participation of the youth in health related governance and to implement laws that would encourage this.

About the author

Mohd Talha Khursheed is an undergraduate medical student at the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, AMU, Aligarh, India. He has an inclination towards writing and has been writing various literary pieces since his school days. He has also written a number of Healthcare related articles for a local News and Media website. He wanted to pursue medicine as he believes nothing is nobler than helping the ones in need. His hobbies include reading books, poetry, listening music and horse riding.

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