One in every five people in the world is an adolescent (defined by The World Health Organization - WHO as a person between 10 and 19 years of age). Out of 1.2 billion adolescents worldwide, about 85% live in developing countries and the remainder live in the industrialized world.
Adolescents are generally thought to be healthy. By the second decade of life, they have survived the diseases of early childhood, and the health problems associated with ageing are still many years away. Death seems so far removed as to be almost unthinkable.
Yet many adolescents do die prematurely. Every year, an estimated 1.7 million young men and women between ages of 10 and 19 lose their lives - mostly through accidents, suicide, violence, pregnancy-related complications and other illnesses that are either preventable or treatable.