Health Governance: Role of the Youth in decision making

Written by: Taj Prabhugaunker

2nd year MBBS, Goa Medical College.

“No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime.Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline and is condemned to bleed to death.”

—Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations

The plethora of global healthcare developments have begun to affect young people’s lives. Although the perennial handicap of youth unemployment in various healthcare sectors is rising, with no shortage of debates in the parliament and the public sphere over the potential solutions, yet the engagement by the young people in policy development has declined to an all time low. This scarce youth involvement in decision making, is often attributed to their lack of interest. However, evidence indicates the more significant barrier being, the government capacity to listen to and work closely with the views of the youth. The youth of the present age have taken a keen interest in key policy areas such as climate change, mental health and sex education, but again the prime hurdle is posed by the lack of government collaboration with them on such intergenerational issues, further diminishing the prospects of a concrete solution to tackle the same.

Youth participation is a basic right. Apart from being a vital means of achieving programme goals for youth or communities, it paves way to improved knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviours.

On the other side of the coin, involving youth in significant activities is a challenge as authorities must consider criteria regarding selection, recruitment and retention of youngsters, whose needs, skillset and backgrounds will vary. Also, involving the youth may require a significant examination of organizational capacity and shifts in attitudes.

Various strategies may be devised to enhance youth participation in policymaking. Previously, youth participation was limited to peer education, youth advisory boards, and youth focus groups. 

Recently, organizations have made efforts to integrate youth into programming, including advocacy, governance and evaluation. 

The youth can help strengthen the roots of health policymaking at various strata.

• Research 

• Programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

• Peer support, representation and advocacy. 

• Policy analysis and development.

• Campaigning and lobbying for positive changes.

• Development and management of their own organizations. 

• Participation in and use of the media. Young people have traditionally

• Conference participation. 

• Youth councils and parliaments. 

All these opportunities for empowering young people to take actions to influence aspects of their lives for the better. 

However, several different models are employed to achieve specific objectives. 

These may be conceptualized in terms of the degree to which control and power are practically transferred to the youth. 

When it comes to “participation”, youngsters are being sent a clear message: your place is in school or work – not in politics. Yet, at a time when young people are increasingly mobilised through issues-based and online politics, the governments have an opportunity to develop robust health policy for the future by engaging with young citizens in the present.


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