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Keeping girls healthy

Dec 21, 2009

Center for Global Development’s publication Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health promotes better health among adolescent girls for reaching the wider goal of improving maternal and child health. It lays out an ambitious yet feasible agenda for all stakeholders to strengthen the health-system for girls.

Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health

Publisher: Center for Global Development, 2009

Improving the health of adolescent girls in the developing world is the key to improving maternal and child health, reducing the impact of HIV, and accelerating social and economic development.

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This document sheds light on the realities of girls' health and wellbeing in developing countries, on the links between the health of girls and the prospects for their families, and on the specific actions that will improve health prospects for millions.

It describes the most prevalent and serious health problems adolescent girls face in developing countries, linking them to a combination of specific public-health risks and social determinants of health.

It highlights the diverse ways in which governments and non-governmental organizations have sought—often successfully, albeit on small scale—to break vicious cycles of ill health. Finally, and most importantly, the report lays out an ambitious yet feasible agenda for governments, donors, the private sector, and civil society organizations—complete with estimates of indicative costs.

"By engaging girls and young women, NGOs and social businesses can address girls’ health needs while creating productive livelihoods.”- Muhammad Yunus

This report provides eight priorities for action:

  • Implement a comprehensive health agenda for adolescent girls in at least three countries.
  • Eliminate marriage for girls younger than 18.
  • Place adolescent girls at the center of international and national action and investment on maternal health.
  • Focus HIV prevention on adolescent girls.
  • Make health-system strengthening and monitoring work for girls.
  • Make secondary-school completion a priority for adolescent girls.
  • Create an innovation fund for girls’ health.
  • Increase donor support for adolescent girls’ health.
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