Child and Adolescent Health and Development: Realizing Neglected Potential
The overview chapter explores the health and development needs of the 5 to 21 year age group and advocates for a package of investments to address priority health needs, especially for children ages 5 to 9 years. A new analysis of mortality specifically found the number of deaths for the 5 to 9 years group to be considerably higher than previously thought. Intervention during each of three stages (middle childhood, adolescent growth spurt, and adolescent growth and consolidation) is essential to enhanced survival and to effective development; moreover, each stage provides an opportunity to remedy earlier failures in development. Treating education and health separately reflects an administrative and bureaucratic approach but does not best serve the needs of the growing child and adolescent. Future research priorities include (1) improving data collection on health and development needs for 5 to 21 years old; (2) evaluating packages of interventions for middle childhood and adolescence; (3) examining the social dimensions of intervention in childhood and adolescence; (4) understanding biological differences as a development issue; and (5) examining the hidden topic of children with disabilities.