D.R. Congo steps up fight against malaria with the launch of national Malaria Youth Corps

Published: 2 December 2023 (Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has officially launched its the National Malaria Youth Corps (DRC NMYC), marking a significant step in the country’s battle against malaria. This launch, following in the footsteps of successful launches in Kenya, Zambia and Eswatini marks the fifth national-level youth corps dedicated to malaria elimination in Africa.

Inspired by the visionary agenda of the chair of ALMA, to mobilize youth across Africa in the malaria fight, the DRC NMYC brings together a dynamic group of young individuals from across DRC. These young individuals have received training through the ALMA Scorecard Hub, focusing on integrating youth into strategies against malaria, as well as Neglected Tropical Diseases and the importance of achieving universal health coverage.

Malaria remains a significant health threat in Africa, especially to vulnerable groups like pregnant women and children under five. The DRC, accounts for 12.3% of all global malaria cases, and bears a substantial burden. In 2022, African countries reported 94% of worldwide malaria cases and 95% of deaths, with children under five comprising 78% of these fatalities.

The DRC’s launch of the NMYC is a timely response to these alarming statistics. It is a crucial step towards combating malaria in a region heavily impacted by the disease. Given the current global health landscape, where climate change and other factors including insecticide resistance and the global financial crisis are intensifying the challenge, initiatives like the DRC NMYC are more vital than ever. Increased health financing, international collaboration, and community-driven initiatives are key in building a resilient response against malaria.

“The energy, creativity, and commitment of young people are essential in our journey to eliminate malaria. Harnessing these qualities, we aim to achieve a malaria-free Africa. The launch of the DRC NMYC is a pivotal step in this direction, bringing us closer to turning this vision into reality,” said Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of ALMA.

The launch event in Kinshasa was graced with the presence of numerous dignitaries and partners, including CS4ME, UNDP, USAID, RAJOC, and more. Tthe Minister of Health was represented by the Division Manager in charge of Partnership at the Permanent Secretariat Office. Mr. Schadrack Girukwishaka, the Central Africa Co-lead of the ALMA Youth Advisory Council (AYAC), represented ALMA, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to empowering young leaders.

The DRC NMYC consists of youth aged 15 – 35, drawing membership from a diverse range of youth platforms, involved in advocacy, community sensitization, and innovative approaches to malaria prevention and treatment. Their work includes support to mosquito vector control including the distribution of insecticide-treated nets as well as public health education. Members come from across 11 provinces, tirelessly working in community mobilization and supporting the National Malaria Control Programme.

As several African nations gear up to inaugurate their respective national malaria youth corps, ALMA continues to foster youth-led initiatives throughout the continent. This commitment is not only reflected in these emerging national corps but also in the presence of malaria youth champions in 38 African countries. These champions actively engage in online platforms and various grassroots activities, amplifying the fight against malaria. The DRC NMYC stands as a shining example of this collective effort, embodying the resolute spirit of young people dedicated to eradicating malaria and championing a healthier future for all.