AstraZeneca has announced extended funding for its Young Health Programme, to the tune of £28 million over a further five years.

The pledge aims to help to educate young people on the steps they can take to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and heart failure.

The programme, co-founded by Plan International UK, was initially launched by the English/Swedish pharma company in 2010, designed to reach adolescents in under-resourced communities and work with them to reduce risky behaviours including smoking, the harmful use of alcohol, poor diet and lack of exercise.

So far this year it has provided scholarships to 25 young people from all over the world, aged 18 to 30, enabling them to actively lead efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of young people in their home countries.

“Non-communicable diseases continue to be the number one cause of death worldwide,” explained Marc Dunoyer, chief financial officer, “and around 70% of those deaths can be linked to behaviour that begins in adolescence.”

The announcement comes as the One Young World Summit takes place in London, which brings together more than 2,500 young people from all over the world to highlight and discuss some of the most serious issues facing the next generation and build connections that work towards solutions.

Marc continued, “The Young Health Programme is AstraZeneca’s key philanthropic initiative that has already reached more than three million young people across the world. I’m proud to say that this extra funding will see the programme expand into Thailand, Egypt, Colombia and beyond, and reach a further five million young people by 2025.”

Non-communicable diseases are responsible for the majority of deaths worldwide, and over two-thirds of those deaths can be directly attributed to behaviour that begins in adolescence.