The Global AA-HA!

The Global AA-HA!

In this post we provide a short commentary on what is being called the Global AA-HA (standing for Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents). We rather like this acronym!

It reminds us of the moment that participants in our training workshops suddenly realise something new! Very often this happens during or shortly after  a half a day of field work (an important feature of our our training workshops). During this time, the participants (usually educators of different kinds) experiment with working with young adolescents in new ways.

Adults work with young adolescents on a government nutrition programme in a Children for Health supported workshop – Mozambique

Primarily the fieldwork with children is an opportunity for adults to listen deeply to the opinions and experiences of the young adolescents. They may find out what young adolescents know about a certain health topic (e.g. nutrition practices, how to prevent diarrhoea; how to prevent malaria etc.). They collect adolescents’ ideas on what they think they can practically do about these issues at family level (direct action) and at community level (advocacy). They listen to adolescents talking about their real and lived experiences and what they need from adults to support what they think they can do.

Teachers in India learning participatory methods to use with adolescents and why these are important

So when WE see the acronym ‘AA-HA’ – we think about the many “Ah Ha!” moments we have witnessed. We remember the echoes of those amazing times when our colleagues in countries all over the world suddenly saw children for the competent resourceful group that they are…!

In the draft of the implementation guide (see below) we love the following quote from a child is Columbia that really speaks to the work that we do too…

“I was in a UNICEF workshop for youth where they taught us to help the younger ones. And that made me very happy because I could help a lot of the little children from the neighbourhood, like telling them to stay out of trouble. And afterwards they met me a and they thanked me. That made me super happy, and it was very satisfying.”

You can find out more about the Global AA-HA Framework here (a brochure)

Updates on the progress of Global AA-HA! can be found here

A Consultation report is set out below

The first draft of the implementation guidance is here

We are very interested in the results of a consultation by Global AA-HA and in particular thatattention to and involvement/participation of adolescents’ emerged as the ‘Most important thing that the framework should achieve’ and that,’not involving youth properly’ emerged as the, ‘single most important thing that the Framework should avoid’.

Promoting child and adolescent involvement and participation by providing content, activities and technical support is what Children for Health is set up to do. For more information contact –

Here is the full text of the Global Framework for Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (AA-HA! Framework) – consultation results.

Executive summary

The Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly endorsed a proposal by the WHO Secretariat to develop a Global Framework for Accelerated Action for Adolescent Health (“the Adolescent Health Framework”), aligned with the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030) and its Operational Framework.

The first round of consultations about the proposed Global Framework for Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (the AA-HA! Framework) took place between October 2015 and March 2016. The consultations were conducted in face-to-face meetings and via an online survey that was open from March 8-28, 2016.

Broad range of participants

In total, 888 participants from 126 countries in all six WHO Regions participated. Participants represented all key categories of stakeholders, including adolescents and young adults, youth groups, and representatives of government, civil society, the private sector, academia, and donor agencies. Among respondents who indicated their country of origin (n=599), the largest number were from the Americas (34%), followed by the African region (22%), South-East Asian (17%), European (17%), Western Pacific (7%) and Eastern Mediterranean (3%) regions.

Adolescents and young adults from 57 countries participated; 12% of the total number of respondents. Public health or national/regional health managers from 72 countries participated in the consultation.

Strong agreement with principles proposed for the Framework

Overall, there was strong agreement with all principles proposed for the Framework: the central involvement of youth; equity, human rights and gender equality; a comprehensive approach to positive adolescent development; reinforcement of relevant existing WHO global and regional strategies and action plans; acknowledgement of diversity and adequate attention to vulnerable adolescents; promotion of integrated responses that address multiple outcomes, risk factors and determinants; and flexibility to account for various epidemiological and socio-economic contexts.

Sixty percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the Framework should have the role of the health sector as its primary focus. However, there also was overwhelming agreement that the Framework should address social determinants of health and the role of sectors other than health, and that it should include a performance framework (targets, indicators) to ensure accountability.

There were no major differences between answers given by young people and other groups, to any of the questions.

The most important thing the Framework should achieve

Participants were invited to suggest the one most important thing that the Framework should aim to achieve. The most frequent suggestions were

  • attention to and involvement/participation of adolescents; and
  • it should address a range of health needs and provide comprehensive care (mental health, violence, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, etc.)

A need to have a more comprehensive approach to adolescent health

“All other sectors like the socio-economic sector, the education sector and the environmental sector must be given equal importance, as they contribute to not just the physical health but also the mental and social health and development of the child.” (An adolescent from India)

Conversely, when participants were invited to suggest the single most important thing that the Framework should avoid, the most frequent recommendations were to avoid

  • not involving youth properly;
  • creating a general blueprint rather than accounting for specific contexts; and
  • not being comprehensive enough (i.e. focusing too much on a single issue).