The Power of Collaborating the Youth in the Fight to Eradicate Malaria
In this AJANews Newsletter, April issue, we take a look at how we can come together in the fight to eradicate Malaria. Africa is the continent with the world’s youngest population and it is sad to report that Children under 5 years of age accounted for about 80% of all malaria deaths in the Region. Four African countries accounted for just over half of all malaria deaths worldwide: Nigeria (31.3%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12.6%), United Republic of Tanzania (4.1%) and Niger (3.9%) (WHO, World Malaria Day 2023).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency (UNICEF) Nearly every minute, a child under five dies of malaria. Many of these deaths are preventable. In 2021, there were 247 million malaria cases globally that led to 619,000 deaths in total. Of these deaths, 77 per cent were children under 5 years of age. This translates into a daily toll of over one thousand children under age 5. It is 6-20 times more likely to spread in mosquito-prone environments.
On April 25th, 2023 as the world marked the 16th World Malaria Day, with the theme ‘Time to deliver zero malaria: Invest, Innovate, Implement’, we take stock of malaria’s devastating impact on people’s lives, most vulnerable being; young children, who have not yet developed partial immunity to malaria and Pregnant women, whose immunity is decreased by pregnancy, especially during the first and second pregnancies whose Costs of treatment to individuals and their families is unbearable particularly when it comes to purchasing of drugs for treating malaria at home; expenses for travel to, and treatment at, dispensaries and clinics; lost days of work; absence from school; expenses for preventive measures; and expenses for burial in case of deaths.
In tandem with Jesuits’ promotion and provision of better health care, Africa Health and Economic Transformation Initiative (AHETI), an initiative of JCAM’s Jesuits Justice Ecology Network Africa (JENA) and the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) that was launched in February this year, will be focusing on the eradication of the endemic poverty diseases in Africa such as Malaria. We believe that through collaboration and promotion of innovation, there will be the creation of efficient control tools and strategies that will be geared towards bolstering investments in malaria prevention and control.
It is time to acknowledge the gift of young people especially in the African continent where the youth account for 60% of the population. The young people are the link between generation and can sustain the conversation about Malaria by sharing key messages with their peers and community. The fourth Apostolic Preference of the Jesuits, call us Jesuits and our collaborators to “accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future” as their passion, innovation and creativity have vast potential to contribute significantly to the fight against Malaria.
This month’s issue covers the Roll out of the African HIV and AIDS Prevention Programme for the Youth (AHAPPY) in Sierra Leone, a new member in the AJAN Network. We also give you an update of our interventions in accompanying the youth, in the hope of “Creating a more Caring and Compassionate African generation full of hope and Committed to protect the Planet”, through the AJAN Youth-for-Youth Initiative, projects being undertaken in Uganda and Zimbabwe.
AJAN Communications Officer