World Vision International
Press Release • Monday, January 30th 2017

World Vision tells WHO Executive Board: "One size of health strategy does not fit all"

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Global Health leaders have once again been called upon to “create meaningful ways for citizens – including adolescents – to participate in global health decision making”.

International children's charity World Vision today asked the World Health Organisation's Executive Board to avoid a repeat of last year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) when attendees of the Global Citizen’s Dialogue had to meet outside of the official proceedings. 

The organisation’s statement delivered by its UN Representative in Geneva, Ms Constanza Martinez, warned WHO board members that “the Global Strategy will not be achieved without meeting the particular health needs of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents”.

“To truly know and understand those needs global health leaders need to find out what they are by listening to adolescents themselves,” said Ms Martinez. “The world too often makes decisions about the most vulnerable in our society without even consulting them. That can only result in inappropriate and, ultimately ineffective solutions.

“What Ibil Surya, a young man from Indonesia, said at the 2015 World Health Assembly still rings true: a one size health strategy does not fit all. It would be nonsense to think otherwise.”

The need to put children and adolescents at the heart of health systems was also a theme of World Vision's recent video interviews with the six candidates for the next WHO Director General. The videos were the candidates' responses to questions about what each would do, if elected, to implement the WHO's Global Plan of Action to use health systems to end violence, especially against children. 

Dr Mesfin Teklu, World Vision’s Vice President of Health & Nutrition said, “Violence affects one billion children and adolescents every year in every country and every community. It is a problem that not only harms each child but jeopardises their future survival, health and education.

“The World Health Assembly underlined the important role strengthening health systems has to play in tackling this issue when it last year endorsed the Global plan of action to strengthen the role of the health system within a national multisectoral response to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls and against children.

“World Vision is hoping that this year, on the issues of health and ending violence, the World Health Assembly will commit to doing everything it can to listen, learn and then act in the best interests of children and adolescents, especially those in the most fragile contexts." 


Notes to editors:

For more information contact Mr Jan Butter, World Vision’s Director of Communications, Sustainable Health on +44 (0)7889400889 

  • World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. For more information, visit


Statement to the 140th WHO Executive Board meeting on Agenda Item 11.3 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016–2030): adolescents’ health

By World Vision International


Thank you Chair,

World Vision is dedicated to the achievement of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and has committed to invest US$3 billion between 2016 and 2020 to support its implementation across more than 58 countries.

The targets of the Global Strategy will not be achieved without meeting the particular health needs of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents. We welcome the Framework for Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents.

In order to achieve lasting change, we need to go beyond business-as-usual including:

  • Reaching boys and girls everywhere, particularly those who are currently out of school and in fragile and conflict settings;

  •  Addressing the particular vulnerabilities faced by adolescents, including all forms of violence. Child marriage, FGM, sexual and physical violence negatively affect the physical and mental health of adolescents, especially girls. An estimated 29%  of  girls  aged  15-19 years  have been  subjected  to  physical  and/or  sexual  violence  by  a  current  or  former  intimate  partner. Addressing the negative gender norms, stereotypes, attitudes and beliefs that underpin such violence requires working with religious and community leaders. 
  • Giving voice to adolescents themselves, allowing them to participate in decision-making that affects their life. Adolescents need platforms to hold their governments to account for health and education services at all levels, including at the World Health Assembly.

We call upon the Executive Board to create meaningful ways for citizens – including adolescents – to participate in global health decision making at the World Health Assembly. World Vision is committed to support WHO for the realization of this vision.

As Indonesian youth Ibil said, speaking at the first Global Citizen Dialogue at the 68th WHA, “Imagine someone buying me a shirt without asking my size and preference first? Will I ever use it? It’s the same thing with health services.”

Thank you.