Cameroon launches national youth corps to combat malaria

Published: 4 March 2024

Cameroon has announced the launch of their National Malaria Youth Corps to strengthen the country’s ongoing efforts to eliminate malaria. This places youth at the centre of the fight against malaria and follows successful launches in Kenya, Zambia, Eswatini, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Africa continues to bear the heaviest burden of malaria globally, particularly threatening vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children under five. In 2022, the continent accounted for 94% of all global malaria cases (233 million cases) and 95% of all malaria deaths (580,000 deaths). Among the 11 countries most affected by malaria worldwide, Cameroon reported over 3 million cases and more than 3,800 deaths in 2021 alone.

Sandrine Christelle Ngwat, President of the Cameroon Malaria Youth Corps, speaks at the launch.

The launch of the Cameroon Malaria Youth Corps, along with others across the continent, comes at a critical juncture in the fight against malaria, and amidst a confluence of challenges. Financial constraints, biological threats such as drug and insecticide resistance, and the exacerbating 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, a renewed focus on integrated approaches—including the involvement of young people—is essential for effective malaria control.

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 H.E President Umaro Sissoco Embaló –  chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), emphasizing the mobilization of Africa’s youth a pathfinder to win the battle against malaria.

The energy, creativity, and hard work of young people is crucial in eliminating malaria and achieving universal health coverage. The launch of a vibrant youth movement to lead the fight against malaria in Cameroon and in other African countries is transformative and is a huge step towards ending malaria and addressing the broader health and development agenda. It propels us closer to ending the disease and ensuring a healthier future for all Africans.

Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of ALMA in a speech delivered on her behalf by Dr. Irenee Umulisa – NTD Senior Programme Officer and Gender & Youth Task Force Team Leader at ALMA

Inspired by the ALMA Youth Strategy, and the subsequent establishment of malaria youth corps in other African countries, the Cameroon Malaria Youth Corps brings together a dynamic group of young Cameroonians, 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. These champions act as change agents in malaria advocacy, evolving in their leadership roles and ensuring their voices are heard. They do so to increase government support and funding for malaria elimination. Their work also raises awareness about malaria and tackles wider health issues, such as how social factors and climate change affect health.

About ALMA

Founded in 2009, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) is a ground-breaking coalition of African Heads of State and Government working across country and regional borders to achieve a malaria-free Africa by 2030. All Member States of the African Union are members of ALMA.

More information

Sandrine Christelle Ngwat – President – Cameroon Malaria Youth Corps

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William Dekker – Technical Advisor – Communication, Advocacy and Youth

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