Young Health Programme

Preventing non-communicable diseases

The Young Health Programme addresses prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by reducing the uptake of unhealthy behaviours in young people. We developed the programme in partnership with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Plan International.

Today, more people die or become ill from NCDs than from communicable diseases. Conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, lung cancer and chronic respiratory disease devastate lives, place a significant burden on global health systems and threaten the productivity of nations.

NCDs are often causally linked to risk behaviours such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol. These behaviours are often learned in adolescence and are heavily influenced by culture, geography and socio-economic conditions. Once learned, they become difficult habits to break.

We are proud co-founders of the Young Health Programme with AstraZeneca. Disease prevention programmes that are focused on youth contribute to addressing a serious global health issue. They help empower youth with the knowledge and the confidence to make informed choices about their health, leading to healthier societies and stronger nations in the future.

Tanya Barron OBE, CEO, Plan International UK

Our strategy is to improve health outcomes for young people and reduce the burden of NCDs on healthcare systems by addressing the risk factors that are precursors to the most common NCDs with a unique focus on adolescents aged 10 to 19. We deliver this programme through a three pillared approach:

  • on-the-ground programming;
  • investment in research and evidence generation to address gaps in knowledge; and
  • investment and active engagement in advocacy for the inclusion of adolescents in the global and local dialogue on NCD prevention.

Since launching in 2010, we have reached 1.6 million young people with important information about healthy lifestyles. We work with over 30 partner organisations across five continents. In Kenya and India, we also look at sexual and reproductive health as an additional risk factor based in recognition that these behaviours are inextricably connected to the others and greatly influence health choices and the ability for young people to participate in health-creating behaviours.