Twenty-five African Youth Leaders passionate about health and healthcare systems have called on African leaders and policymakers to be committed to ending the malaria epidemic and achieving universal health coverage (UHC).
The young advocates, drawn from three African countries: Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania under the Youth Leaders for Health (YL4H) Programme made this call when they presented a statement to the Deputy Chairperson African Union Commission, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In the same vein, the youth leaders also expressed their readiness to advocate for policy change at key national, regional and global advocacy moments for better health outcomes.
“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,” the statement from the youth leaders read.
Dr. Sylvia Anie, Technical Adviser to the initiative commented, “Africa is home to 93% of the world’s malaria burden. It is time for renewed and enhanced political, private sector and community response.”
Youth Leaders for Health is a joint initiative by WACI Health, Hope for Future Generations (Ghana), Health Promotion Tanzania-HDT, CISMAT- SL and RESULTS UK with support from Comic Relief and in partnership with Malaria No More UK.
The young advocates are in Addis Ababa for a five- day training programme on advocacy. They are bound to influence decision-makers during a range of pivotal moments such as national elections, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and World Malaria Day towards ending the malaria epidemic, achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and create lasting impact.
In his response, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey commended the Youth Leaders for Health and the implementing partners for their efforts which is aligned with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 (The blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future).
He pledged the African Union’s support for the programme, granting permission for a banner to be mounted by the youth leaders at the AU Headquarters, to remind African leaders on the need to strengthen the health systems in their respective countries.
Ambassador Kwesi Quartey also promised to deliver the statement to the African Leaders at the upcoming Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa.
“Advocacy is about collective action and utilizing the right opportunities to push for action. We are glad the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union committed to conveying the message from the Youth Leaders for Health during the African Union Summit,” said Farhan Yusuf, one of the advocates from Tanzania.
Augustine Kumah, a youth leader from Ghana also said:
“Africa has over the years recorded high malaria morbidity and mortality. It’s time for us the youth to change that narrative. We need not keep our voices to ourselves but speak up to ensure a better health system to achieve a continent free of Malaria.”
For her part, the Executive Director of WACI Health, Rosemary Mburu, noted that changing the trajectory of malaria will demand high-level political leadership in Africa.
Miss Rita Lodonu, the project lead from Hope for Future Generations (Ghana) was of the view that the statement would be a reminder to stakeholders and policy-makers to recommit to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a whole.