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Young advocates Ready to Beat Malaria

Young advocates Ready to Beat Malaria

The Malaria Summit London 2018 was a watershed moment for the global malaria community. And young people were at the heart; advocating to end humanity’s age-old foe malaria once and for all.

They make up the 60% of the Commonwealth that are under the age of 30.

They are the next generation of leaders, ready to beat malaria now.

The Malaria Summit Youth Delegation consisted of Dr Elvis Eze, Nigerian Clinical Fellow at St Bartholomew’s London; Pharaoh Kasyonga and Jacenth Nakasujja, Community Health Workers from Uganda; Omac Virgina Huvo, Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) Operator from Mozambique; and Dr Ndifanji Namacha, Assistant Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Malawi.

Elvis, Pharaoh, Omac, Jacenth and Ndifanji

Their week began with advocacy training led by RESTLESS Development, which gave them the tools and strategies to advocate for malaria to be included in the Commonwealth Youth Communique, the Commonwealth Youth Action Plan, and the Commonwealth Youth Health Network Commitment.

With these impressive wins under their belts, they were more than ready for the Malaria Summit London.

Each of the 5 young advocates had a powerful personal and professional story to share on their efforts in the fight against malaria. Collectively they developed the Malaria Summit Youth Declaration, which calls on stakeholders to recognise the expertise of youth, create the space for young people’s voices, and provide a platform for young leadership. This was presented on stage by Elvis.

Elvis Eze

From Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award winning Nigerian novelist, these five young delegates influenced and inspired everyone at the Summit.

Chimamanda and Elvis

Ndifanji gave an impressive speech on the motivation for her career as a malaria researcher and called upon Commonwealth leaders to remain accountable to the commitments which were made to eliminate malaria.

Ahead of the Summit some of the delegates met with Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Special Envoy on Youth, who also gave an excellent speech during the Summit and strongly endorsed the youth call to action for Commonwealth leaders.

Jayathma, Ndifanji and Omac

Although the Summit is over the delegates know the work has just begun. Now is the time for action and accountability. And they are already leading by example. Jacenth and Omac are mobilising village communities in Uganda to change their perceptions of bed bet use. Omac is calling for better protective equipment of IRS operators and for communities to be better sensitized on the need for their homes to be sprayed. Elvis is driving the Commonwealth Youth Health Network’s commitments into action, and Ndifanji is using her research skills to innovate for better tools to map malaria hot spots.

So, watch this space! These young delegates and a much larger army of youth advocates from across the Commonwealth are ready to beat malaria.

I know that everything is going to change in the next few years.

Omac, Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) Operator and Malaria Summit Youth Advocate from Mozambique