ALMA congratulates Zambia on launching a malaria youth army

Cet article d’actualité est disponible uniquement en anglaise.

Published: 20 August 2022

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance congratulates the Republic of Zambia on launching a youth army to fast track the elimination of malaria. Youth constitute most of the population and can drive action, advocacy, resource mobilisation, accountability efforts and steer innovation and social movement building. Hon. Sylvia Masebo, Minister of Health, Saturday launched the Zambia Malaria Youth Army, a social movement that brings together young people from Zambia to champion malaria control and elimination in the country.

“Zambia remains a high-burden malaria country with over 7 million malaria cases reported annually. The disease is the leading cause of morbidity, inpatient and mortality in Zambia. We can harness Africa’s bulging population to increase action in our communities to defeat malaria” said Hon. Sylvia Masebo, Minister of Health of the Republic of Zambia.

The Zambia Malaria Youth Army will consist of young people aged 15 – 35, and will draw its membership from existing youth platforms, including youth groups, youth alliances, youth councils, youth societies and youth associations. The army will be open to a diverse cadre of young people, including students, young professionals, young leaders in the political realm, public service and the private sectors and any other young persons willing to volunteer their time towards the malaria fight.

To fulfil its mandate, the youth army will support awareness raising, community sensitization activities, and dissemination of malaria messages in a bid to drive action towards malaria elimination. The army will advocate for resource mobilization and policy implementation while supporting community level malaria prevention and control efforts. These includes community-facing actions including the  distribution of insecticide-treated nets, spraying larvicides at the malaria breeding sites and performing indoor residual spraying of homes. The youth will also take lead in innovating and scaling up the delivery of proven tools that will prevent, diagnose or treat malaria infections in a bid to save lives.

In Zambia, malaria elimination remains a “legacy goal” of the Ministry of Health. The National Malaria Elimination Programme is making strides in sustaining political support, country ownership, and evidence-based programming. Zambia is home to the deadliest form of malaria, caused by a species called Plasmodium falciparum, transmitted from person to person by Anopheles mosquitoes. The disease is the number one cause of hospitalization in Zambia and, as such, takes a massive toll on individuals and communities, affecting family productivity, the economic performance of businesses, and the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

However, Zambia has made strides in malaria prevention and control and continues to implement proven malaria interventions aimed at reducing malaria cases and deaths. The National Malaria Elimination Strategic Plan outlines the need to achieve universal coverage with at least one vector control intervention, which include indoor residue spraying (IRS), distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets (LLINs) and larval source management (LSM) in eligible settings.

In 2019, Zambia formed the End Malaria Council. This organization was launched to support the National Malaria Elimination Programme. The emphasis of the End Malaria Council is advocacy to raise the profile of malaria, resource mobilization and accountability.  The End Malaria Council, with support from the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), has implemented innovative approaches to promote its core functions. One such approach was the establishment of Faith Leaders Against Malaria Elimination (FLAME).

The Malaria Youth Army Champions will be engaged in diverse areas of action and accountability to support the existing end-malaria mechanisms at country level. This army will be involved in activities that strategically support the National Malaria Strategy and programme activities of the country’s National Malaria Elimination Programme.