Eswatini launches national malaria youth army

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Published: 28 April 2022

Eswatini’s Honorable Minister of Health, Senator Lizzie Nkosi, yesterday launched the Eswatini Malaria Youth Army. This is a movement of young people that will support advocacy, communication, innovation, and community efforts geared towards the control and elimination of malaria in the country, as well as advance access to universal healthcare.

The unveiling of the Eswatini Malaria Youth Army builds on the African Leaders Malaria Alliance’s bold and ambitious vision to establish a continental “Malaria Youth Army” to champion youth engagement in malaria elimination.

Speaking during the launch, Hon. Lizzie Nkosi noted the youth’s strong position to make a difference in the fight against malaria. “As young people, you should be involved in all of health because you are tomorrow’s leaders. When you stand where other ministers and I are standing today in the future, we do not want you to be speaking about malaria. We want this to be a thing of the past. This is why you need to engage now for yourselves, for your children and grandchildren,” she said. 

Also in attendance was Hon. Harries Bulunga, Eswatini’s Minister of Sports, Culture, and Youth Affairs. Commending the efforts in engaging the youth in national health matters, he noted, “it pleases us as a Ministry to see the health sector actively involving our youth in the search for sustainable solutions to our country’s health challenges. Indeed, in a country like ours where over 70% of the population is aged 35 years and under, we cannot afford to leave our young people behind.”

The Eswatini Malaria Youth Army consists of 17 council members that will lead and provide strategic guidance to the larger army that will be open to a wider cadre of young people including students, professionals from the private, public sector and other young individuals eager to volunteer their talents to the malaria elimination cause in Eswatini. Leading up to the launch, the council received various trainings to ensure its members are well capacitated and clear on their roles and responsibilities. This is critical in ensuring that the Malaria Youth Army effectively plays its part in helping achieve the shared goal of malaria elimination.

After Kenya, the Kingdom of Eswatini is the second African country to launch the groundbreaking national malaria youth army.

Eswatini is a low transmission country, and therefore, among one of the four countries from the Southern Africa region earmarked by the African Union (AU) Health Ministers and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as capable of achieving malaria elimination. The youth who are hallmarks of creativity, energy, and determination are therefore a great addition to Eswatini’s quest to eliminate malaria.