Burkina Faso unveils its youth corps against malaria

Published: 20 May 2024 (Gaoua, Burkina Faso)

Burkina Faso has announced the unveiling of its National Malaria Youth Corps to strengthen the country’s ongoing efforts to eliminate malaria. Kenya, Zambia, Eswatini, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Uganda have launched similar initiatives as Africa pushes its efforts and agenda to defeat malaria and address global health challenges.

Malaria is among the leading cause of death in Burkina Faso, particularly among children. Considering our country’s entire population is at risk, this disease places a significant strain on our fragile health systems and severely impacts our socio-economic development. I commend the efforts of the Burkina Faso Malaria Youth Corps. These young individuals have officially committed themselves to the elimination of malaria.

Dr Issa Ouedraogo, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene

At the official launch of the Corps held in Gaoua, a town over 400km from the capital and the epicenter of malaria prevalence, the youth, led by Abdoul-Fataou MAIGA, Coordinator of the Corps, adorned officials with scarves to mark their solemn commitment to contribute to the elimination of malaria. The Secretary General of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, the Permanent Secretary for Malaria Elimination, the High Commissioners, and the Secretary General of the South-West region all wore these scarves.

Malaria is endemic throughout Burkina Faso, putting the entire population at risk of infection. According to the Ministry of Health, the disease accounts for 43% of health provider consultations, over 60% of hospitalisations, and 30% of deaths. Economically, malaria inflicts significant losses on Burkina Faso, totaling several billion CFA Francs.

The launch of the Burkina Faso Malaria Youth Corps, along with others across the continent, comes at a time when Africa is at the centre of a perfect storm that threatens to disrupt essential life-saving malaria services. Africa still bears the heaviest burden of malaria globally, accounting for 94% of all global malaria cases (233 million cases) and 95% of all malaria deaths (580,000 deaths). Financial constraints, biological threats such as drug and insecticide resistance, and the intensifying effects of climate change continue to threaten the gains made in combating malaria. With progress in malaria reduction stalling since 2015, and Africa falling behind in meeting the ambitious targets set by the African Union’s Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB, and Eliminate Malaria by 2030, a renewed focus on integrated approaches – including the involvement of young people – is essential for effective malaria control.

The recent Yaoundé Declaration further calls for multisectoral action, which involves the intensified engagement of youth, including through the launch of youth corps in all high burden high impact countries.  This engagement will also facilitate youth leadership in community led monitoring, such as mapping of mosquito breeding sites, identifying model malaria households, and support to address the community level bottlenecks identified including through innovative approaches to communication and implementation. Engaging the youth in the fight against malaria is a gamechanger that aligns with the African Union’s efforts to promote youth leadership, as outlined in the Africa Youth Charter and the African Union Roadmap on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth and Agenda 2063. It also aligns with the priority agenda of the chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), His Excellency, President Umaro Sissoco Embaló. The ALMA Chair’s priority agenda emphasizes the mobilization of Africa’s youth a pathfinder to win the battle against malaria.

With two in three people in Burkina Faso under the age of 25, and nearly half the population under 15, the nation’s youth are not just its future but also its present force for change. We look forward to harnessing their energy, zeal and urgency to drive grassroots action and contribute immensely to advocacy, action, resource mobilisation and accountability to end this disease once and for all and set a firm path for Africa’s broader health and development agenda and socio-economic transformation that will lead to shared prosperity.

Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of ALMA.

Inspired by the ALMA Youth Strategy, and the subsequent establishment of malaria youth corps in other African countries, the Burkina Faso Malaria Youth Corps brings together a dynamic group of young Burkinabè, trained through the ALMA Scorecard Hub. This training encompasses the integration of youth in strategies against not only malaria but also Neglected Tropical Diseases and the pursuit of universal health coverage. The ALMA Youth Strategy aims to promote mainstreaming of malaria efforts into existing youth structures at continental, regional and country levels – ensuring that young people are deeply involved in the fight against malaria. Through the ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’ campaign and efforts toward Universal Health Coverage, the strategy encourages the youth to lead in malaria elimination by advocating, communicating, and taking actions based on evidence. As a result of the strategy, to date, malaria youth champions are present in 38 African countries, engaging in online platforms and grassroots activities to champion acts as change agents in malaria advocacy.

About ALMA

Founded in 2009, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) is a pioneering coalition of African heads of state and government committed across national and regional borders to freeing Africa from malaria by 2030. All African Union member states are ALMA members. www.alma2030.org.

For more information

William Dekker

  • Technical Advisor – Communication, Advocacy, and Youth, African Leaders Malaria Alliance
  • Email: WDekker@alma2030.org
  • Telephone: +1 347 933 1408