Advancing Youth Participation to Inform Equitable Health Policy; Comment on “Between Rhetoric and Reality: Learnings From Youth Participation in the Adolescent and Youth Health Policy in South Africa”

Document Type : Commentary


1 Department of Occupational Therapy, New York University (NYU), New York City, NY, USA

2 Division of Public Health Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA


In their published study, Jacobs and George examine how youth participation was enabled to advance the Adolescent and Youth Health Policy (AYHP) in South Africa. Using an expanded and adapted conceptual framework of youth participation to inform their work, their findings center on the complexities of youth participation including enablers and the challenges experienced in the South African context. Building upon their foundational work, in this commentary we suggest further insights for consideration to advance youth participation to inform equitable health policies, including the inclusion of youth with intersecting identities and critical reflection to further advance the adapted conceptual framework.


  1. Jacobs T, George A. Between rhetoric and reality: learnings from youth participation in the Adolescent and Youth Health Policy in South Africa. Int J Health Policy Manag. 2022;11(12):2927-2939. doi:34172/ijhpm.2022.6387
  2. Njelesani J, Hunleth J. Youth participatory research evidence to inform health policy: a systematic review protocol. BMJ Open. 2020;10(8):e036522. doi:1136/bmjopen-2019-036522
  3. Spray J. The value of anthropology in child health policy. Anthropol Action. 2018;25(1):29-40. doi:3167/aia.2018.250104
  4. Hunleth JM, Spray JS, Meehan C, Lang CW, Njelesani J. What is the state of children's participation in qualitative research on health interventions?: a scoping study. BMC Pediatr. 2022;22(1):328. doi:1186/s12887-022-03391-2
  5. Cahill H, Dadvand B. Re-conceptualising youth participation: a framework to inform action. Child Youth Serv Rev. 2018;95:243-253. doi:1016/j.childyouth.2018.11.001
  6. Njelesani J, Cameron D, Gibson BE, Nixon S, Polatajko H. A critical occupational approach: offering insights on the sport-for-development playing field. Sport Soc. 2014;17(6):790-807. doi:1080/17430437.2014.882907
  7. Njelesani J, Sedgwick A, Davis JA, Polatajko HJ. The influence of context: a naturalistic study of Ugandan children's doings in outdoor spaces. Occup Ther Int. 2011;18(3):124-132. doi:1002/oti.310
  8. Njelesani J, Mlambo V, Denekew T, Hunleth J. Inclusion of children with disabilities in qualitative health research: a scoping review. PLoS One. 2022;17(9):e0273784. doi:1371/journal.pone.0273784
  9. Hunleth J. Beyond on or with: questioning power dynamics and knowledge production in ‘child-oriented’ research methodology. Childhood. 2011;18(1):81-93. doi:1177/0907568210371234
  10. Clark CD. In a Younger Voice: Doing Child-Centered Qualitative Research. New York: Oxford University Press; 2010.