Global, 13th October 2021– Youth from 38 African countries meeting last week committed to an increased role in the malaria fight on the African continent. Meeting virtually for a 3-day conference titled ‘Youth Leadership and Development for Young Innovators to Eliminate Malaria in Africa’ the youth resolved to scale up action towards better health to advance African Union’s socio-economic transformation blueprint Agenda 2063 and United Nations Development Framework Agenda 2030. The trainees are part of the first cohort of the ALMA Youth Innovation Challenge champions committed to contribute towards the ambition of eliminating malaria by 2030.
“By eliminating malaria, we contribute to a greater goal, we allow the health system to cope with other pressing health needs. This contributes to building resilient health systems and a critical infrastructure and health workforce for all. We have entered into an age of epidemics, now is the time to eliminate this old age disease, we have enough political will and capacity to achieve this in our lifetime’ said Joy Phumaphi, ALMA’s Executive Secretary during the official opening.
His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta upon assuming the chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance outlined a bold and ambitious four-point agenda that includes the creation of a Malaria Youth Army to harness on the demographic dividend and create a broader social movement to fight malaria, improve maternal and child health, and improve access to universal health care. Other key elements of the agenda include a digitalisation agenda, that has seen the establishment of a continental scorecard hub, establishment of end Malaria Councils and Funds and working with Regional Economic Blocs to drive the malaria agenda including collaborative frameworks that are now being implemented.
During the conference, participants were trained on youth mainstreaming frameworks that facilitate the inclusion of young people in strategies geared towards tackling challenges such as malaria. In a session led by African Union’s Nadia Bako, participants were further trained on the systems thinking approach, impressing upon them the significance of adopting holistic approaches in developing innovative solutions to #EndMalaria.
Since its’ inception, the ALMA scorecard approach has proven to be an effective tool in driving accountability and action in malaria and has further been an instrumental advocacy tool in addressing gaps in health systems. To enhance the capacity of the youth in leveraging its resources to develop their own innovative solutions towards tackling malaria, participants received training on how to navigate the ALMA Scorecard Hub and use it for advocacy and communication.
“The training on the ALMA scorecard hub has given us access to data that is key in advancing our advocacy, resource mobilisation and accountability efforts. I call on every young person here today to take advantage of this to find new pathways to eliminate malaria,” said Aloyce Urassa, ALMA’s Youth Advisory Council chair.
This training comes after the launch of the Kenya Malaria Youth Army in July 2021 by HE President Uhuru Kenyatta. The youth army is mandated to support awareness raising, community sensitization activities, and dissemination of malaria messages in a bid to drive action towards malaria elimination. It will further advocate for resource mobilization and policy implementation while supporting community level malaria prevention and control efforts.
The Kenya Malaria Youth Army sets the foundation for the formulation of similar initiatives across Africa, the training of participants under the Youth Leadership and Development for Young Innovators to Eliminate Malaria in Africa course is a step in the right direction.
Malaria remains one Africa’s biggest health problems, claiming a child under five years every two minutes. Many of these deaths are preventable and treatable hence the need to intensify efforts towards ridding Africa of this problem. Youth innovators are our best defense in the fight against malaria.