Twenty-five African Youth Health advocates have petitioned the African Union (AU) to be more committed to ending the malaria epidemic and achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Available statics indicate that Africa is home to 93 per cent of the world’s malaria burden.
At a five-day capacity building meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the advocates, very passionate about health and healthcare systems, called on African leaders and policy makers to be committed towards fighting the disease, which continues to wreak havoc on the Continent.
The Youth Leaders for Health programme is a joint initiative by some African non-governmental organisations; WACI Health, Hope for Future Generations (Ghana), Health Promotion Tanzania-HDT, CISMAT – Sierra Leone, and RESULTS UK, with support from Comic Relief and in partnership with Malaria No More UK.
Drawn from Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, the health advocates presented a statement to Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, for onward submission to the AU.
They said they were ready to advocate for policy change at key national, regional and global advocacy moments for better health outcomes.
The statement read: “As youth leaders, we pledge our ongoing support as partners and stakeholders in achieving health priorities within our own countries and across Africa.”
“We support political and resource commitments to combat and eliminate diseases such as HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria that have continued to plague our continent disproportionately.”
Dr Sylvia Anie, the Technical Adviser to the Group, expressed worry over the seemingly hitches to the fight against malaria and called for enhanced efforts at reducing the disease burden.
“It is time for renewed and enhanced political, private sector and community response,” she said.
In his response, Ambassador Quartey commended the youth advocates and the implementing partners for their efforts, which, he said, were aligned with the AU’s Agenda 2063, the blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.
He pledged the AU’s support for the programme and granted permission for a banner to be mounted by the youth leaders at the AU Headquarters.
The banner is to remind African leaders on the need to strengthen the health systems in their respective countries.
Ambassador Quartey promised to deliver the statement to the African Leaders at the upcoming Summit of the AU in Addis Ababa.
Later in an interview, Mr Augustine Kumah, a youth leader from Ghana, said: “Africa has over the years recorded high malaria morbidity and mortality and so it’s time for us the youth to change that narrative.”
“We need not to keep our voices to ourselves but speak up to ensure a better health systems to achieve a continent free of Malaria.”
Farhan Yusuf, another advocate from Tanzania, said since advocacy was about collective action and utilising the right opportunities to push for action, they were glad the Deputy Chairperson of the AU had committed to conveying their message to the African leaders at the upcoming Summit.
Ms Rosemary Mburu, the Executive Director WACI Health, on her part, said changing the trajectory of malaria would demand high level of political leadership in Africa.
Miss Rita Lodonu, the Project Lead, Hope for Future Generations, expressed the hope that the statement would be a reminder to stakeholders and policy-makers on the need to recommit to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a whole.
The young advocates, participating in the advocacy training, are expected to use pivotal moments such as national elections, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and the World Malaria Day to influence decision-makers towards ending the epidemic and creating lasting impact.