Empowering Our Youth: Tapping the Green Transition in the Fight Against Malaria

Published: 11 August 2023

On the occasion of International Youth Day 2023, themed “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World,” the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) joins the global community to celebrate the pivotal role African youth are playing in carving out a sustainable path towards eliminating malaria from Africa.

Today, as our planet moves towards an eco-resilient, climate-conscious trajectory, it is our youth, burgeoning with innovative ideas and energy, who are at the forefront of this shift. Equipped with green skills — an amalgamation of technical proficiency and sustainable values — they are the pillars of our future. Their potential to drive change and innovation, will mould the face of a sustainable, malaria-free Africa based on inclusive growth based on Agenda 2063’s transformative vision.

In line with these values, ALMA, in partnership with the Ifakara Health Institute, proudly unveiled the Malaria Essay Innovation Challenge, receiving insightful entries from young minds spanning 32 African nations. The caliber of essays submitted was a testament to the ingenuity and depth of understanding our youth possess about the intricate challenges and nuances surrounding malaria in the continent.

One essay that encapsulates the essence of this year’s Youth Day theme is by Kenneth Egwu, who secured the second position. His essay, titled “Waste to Net: A Community-Based Solution for Malaria,” provides an ingenious solution that synergizes community mobilization with environmental sustainability. By recycling waste to fund malaria prevention, Kenneth not only innovates in health but also contributes significantly towards a cleaner environment.

The top three illuminating essays, embodying the spirit of innovation and sustainability, are:

  1. Norman Jonas – “Leveraging the Use of Integrated Mobile Health For Community-Level Malaria Control In Sub-Saharan Africa Through Community Health Workers“. Jonas, a 31-year-old medical doctor and teaching assistant in Tanzania , proposes the “Integrated Malaria digital health platform” (IMDHP), a consolidated system offering various functionalities for malaria control, easily accessible via mobile phones for community health workers (CHWs). The platform integrates mHealth applications, telemedicine, Electronic Health Records (EHR), data visualization, surveillance systems, and decision support systems.
  2. Kenneth Egwu – “Waste to Net: A Community-Based Solution for Malaria“. Kenneth, a 24-year-old final year Pharmacy student at the University of Nigeria, proposes a community-based solution where villagers collect plastics and other recyclable waste, which are then sold to recycling companies. The profits are used to buy insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) for the community. The nets come with a target amount of plastics the villagers must accumulate, and the collection is monitored through a blockchain-based database. The initiative utilizes religious heads, youth volunteers, and healthcare workers to foster trust in the community. This approach tackles both health and environmental challenges, and the initiative’s progress will be monitored through a dedicated website.
  3. Oluwatomi Adedun – “Paving a Way Forward? Eliminating Pediatric Malaria In Nigeria With the Aid of Surveillance Dashboards“. Adedun emphasizes the importance of surveillance systems, particularly dashboards, in monitoring and analyzing pediatric malaria in Nigeria. The 22 years-old geography student in Nigeria, an aspiring medical geographer and GIS analyst, created an analytical dashboard visualizing pediatric malaria data from various years, utilizing the ArcGIS Online Map tool. This dashboard helps in identifying patterns and predictors of pediatric malaria, such as rainfall, temperature, usage of antimalarials and ITNs by children, maternal literacy levels, urbanization, and more. This visualization aids in the effective monitoring and tackling of pediatric malaria in Nigeria.Top of Form

“Our future and vision to eliminate malaria and set Africa on a firm path to economic prosperity for all is in safe hands. Our youth, with their unbounded enthusiasm and visionary ideas, are the torchbearers for a malaria-free future. Their commitment, showcased through initiatives such as the Malaria Essay Innovation Challenge, is a beacon of hope, proving that with combined efforts, we can overcome malaria while also treading an eco-conscious path,” said Joy Phumaphi, the Executive Secretary of ALMA.

Furthermore, the spirited engagement of the youth, as seen through initiatives such as the Malaria Youth Corps launched across different African nations, provides a heartening glimpse of the future. Africa’s youth are dedicated and have a great resolve that is ensuring that the fight against malaria is renewed with great vigor and far-sighted leadership and action.

Let us recall the AU Agenda 2063’s emphasis on the significance of youth in sculpting the continent’s destiny, especially in sectors like health, peace and security, nutrition and food security. This reinforces our belief in harnessing the demographic dividend and sets Africa on a solid path for sustainable development. Their fresh perspectives and innovative approaches fuel our conviction that the battle against malaria will be a victorious one, with young people at the helm.

As we celebrate this day, ALMA remains committed to nurturing these seeds of change. Our gratitude extends to every young mind that participated in the malaria innovation essay competition, infusing hope and ingenuity into our shared mission. Their passion and vision are the cornerstone of our collective journey towards a more prosperous, healthier, greener Africa.