n South African Medical Journal - Adolescent health : guest editorial

Volume 105, Issue 11
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



The period of adolescence is associated with complex psychological, physical and cognitive changes as children transition to adulthood. In more recent times this transition has taken on added complexities, particularly in developing countries undergoing social and political changes, in an era of increasing globalisation and access to information through new technologies. While adolescents comprise about 25% of the global population, they constitute up to 40% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa, creating what is also referred to as the 'youth bulge' in the population pyramid. This demographic shift in sub-Saharan Africa is also associated with poorer health outcomes in adolescents as a result of a convergence of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Notably, the gender gaps in infant and childhood survival are being reversed, with secondary sexual development resulting in increasing vulnerability of young women, which perpetuates vicious cycles of inter-generational poverty, low levels of schooling, and ill health that undermine social and economic transformation in these settings.

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