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Imagining Health Futures: A UNICEF & Commission Initiative

Imagining health futures: A UNICEF & Commission initiative

There are 1.8 billion young people in the world – that’s 1.8 billion health futures to be written. By bridging the creative minds of speculative fiction authors and young people, Imagining health futures is an initiative that empowers children and young people to share their visions of health and well-being, and how they are shaped by technology, the world in 2035, and beyond.

Of the 1.8 billion young people, more than 360 million are excluded from the digital age, while others are digital natives, spending more time online than any generation before. Globally, over 200 million young people are not in school, and many of those feel like they are not learning the skills that they need, including digital and health literacy. Millions are affected by poverty and violence and face a growing amount of uncertainty about the environment, the future of work, and their health and well-being. Too many feel like they don’t have a voice.

Mirroring a ‘writers’ room’, Imagining health futures virtual workshops bridge the creative minds of speculative fiction authors and young people across the world, driving narratives about young peoples’ hopes, fears, challenges, wants, and needs in the future.

Insights produced from these initial sessions offer scaffolding for collaborating authors to narrate the futures of health as imagined by children and young people navigating their way into adulthood. We expect to publish a small collection of short stories that will bring to life the health futures of young people today. We welcome media inquiries regarding this initiative.

 

Why this is important

The Lancet & Financial Times Commission entitled Growing up in a digital world: Governing health futures 2030 supports dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders on ethical guidelines, governance approaches, institutional responsibilities, and standards that need to be considered in relation to health, human rights, and public goods, especially for future generations.

UNICEF and Governing health futures 2030 see this as an opportunity for taking youth voices into account as we strive for improving the health and well-being of children and young people in an ever more digital world. These digital conversations with youth and resulting storytelling content will help inform the work of the Commission and be shared with the general public.

The Lancet & Financial Times Commission:

Commissioners from a wide range of sectors, expertise and backgrounds are contributing their guidance, intellectual input and ideas to a report on Governing health futures 2030: Growing up in a digital world. This report will be published in The Lancet in 2021 and explore the convergence of digital health, artificial intelligence (AI), and other frontier technologies with universal health coverage (UHC) to support attainment of the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). The Commission is cooperating with partners to support inclusive dialogues with the private sector, youth organisations, and other key stakeholders.

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UNICEF:

UNICEF is the world’s leading organization for children, working in over 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. UNICEF approaches young people from an assets-based perspective, convinced of their promise, and focusing on their strengths. Evidence shows that when adolescent girls and boys are supported and encouraged, along with policies and service responsive to their needs and capabilities, they have the potential to break longstanding cycles of inequality, poverty, discrimination, and violence.

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