Although most young people are not at high risk of severe disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, they play an important role and share in the collective responsibility to help stop transmission, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
In celebrating International Youth Day, with a theme of "Youth Engagement for Global Action" this year, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, together with UNESCO's Director-General Audrey Azoulay, recognized young people, youth organizations, and youth networks around the world for their collective action during COVID-19.
"This pandemic is having a major impact on the future of young adults -- not just from the virus itself, but because of its impacts on the economy, employment, education, and the overall health system," Tedros said, asking young people to "be informed and make choices about their health to prepare for long and healthy lives."
"It is critical that we engage with young people now to start the journey to understanding their own health," Tedros said.
He further left three requests for them. First, he called on organizations, intuitions and governments "to listen, engage and empower young adults as partners in action. Our future is their future."
"Second, we have to give young people a much larger role in political decision-making. Their voices often go unheard, even though more than half of the world's population is under 35 years old."
"Finally, and most importantly, to young adults around the world, I say: Think big and be bold. We count on you for your creativity and your fresh ideas... Working together, all of us, old and young, from everywhere in the world, can overcome this pandemic," he added.