Identifying an Essential Package for Adolescent Health: Economic Analysis

Authors: Susan Horton, Elia De la Cruz Toledo, Jacqueline Mahon, John Santelli, Jane Waldfogel


This chapter provides an overview of methods and examines the economic case for investment in adolescent health by surveying known costs, cost-effectiveness, and cost-benefit ratios of interventions then using these economic data to examine the cost of an essential package of health and behavioral interventions that all countries should provide. The essential package draws on packages developed elsewhere and utilizes information from costing studies of related packages. Countries can modify this package depending on their specific needs and resource availability, but an essential package for adolescent health should include at least three elements: (1) national-level policy combined with communication of social norms; (2) accessible and respectful services; and (3) targeted education. Such a package costs approximately US$8.90 per adolescent in lower-middle-income countries (in 2012 U.S. dollars), with the costs somewhat higher in upper-middle-income countries. Adolescent health, overlooked for years, has now achieved much-needed prominence in the international health agenda, as it represents a key time at which to invest in and benefit the health of the working-age population.