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Plan International and AstraZeneca launch the Young Health Programme (YHP) in the UK

Plan International and AstraZeneca announce UK programme amid urgent need to tackle mental health inequalities among young people

Global children’s charity Plan International UK and long-term partner AstraZeneca, a global, science-led biopharmaceutical organisation, are today launching the Young Health Programme (YHP) in the UK.

The YHP UK will be a ground-breaking programme to tackle the growing health inequalities faced by young people across the UK, with a focus on gender inequalities.  Plan International’s State of Girls’ Rights UK report found the mental health of children and young people is at a critical point in the UK and in our latest research 40% of UK girls said their mental health had deteriorated since lockdown[1].

There is also growing evidence from the Local Government Association[2] that where young people live can impact how they realise their rights and access health services. This can be further compounded by the intersection of gender and socio-economic background. 

The YHP UK will be designed with and for young people, following an innovative Youth-Centred Design model which places young people’s voices at the centre of the programme.  The YHP will listen to the challenges that young people face and identify what changes they’d like to see happen. Then together, work to develop and adapt solutions to tackle the health inequalities they face and improve health and wellbeing outcomes for young people and their communities.  

This innovative model has been designed to develop and evolve with the changing needs of young people. It will provide the knowledge, tools and support needed to create and shape the future of their health and wellbeing. 

The YHP UK will be working across four locations and with over 130,000 young people (aged 10-24) over five years. It joins the global Young Health Programme, where since 2010, we have worked with over three million young people in 20 countries to live healthier lives and create change in their communities.

The global YHP has a unique focus on the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in adolescents. These include type-2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and mental health, which is the focus of the UK programme.

Heather Smith, Head of UK Programmes at Plan International UK, said:

“We know there is an urgent need to tackle health inequalities amongst young people here in the UK. This programme will work with and for young people to shape the future of their mental health and wellbeing.

“We’re really excited to be announcing the Young Health Programme UK with our long-term partner, AstraZeneca. 

“This is an exciting moment for the partnership as we bring our global expertise on health and young people to the UK”

Sir Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, Biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said:   

“We know there is growing evidence that links mental health challenges in young people with negative long-term health outcomes, including increased likelihood of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). AstraZeneca is delighted to be partnering with Plan International UK again to help develop a programme in the UK that promises to make a meaningful difference to the lives of young people. Together we will bring our global expertise in supporting young people to the Young Health Programme UK.”