Most Kenyan youth ready to ‘Draw the Line Against Malaria’

About 9 in 10 Kenyan youth (96pc) are ready to take personal responsibility in the fight against malaria, with three quarters (74pc) believing the disease can be eliminated in their lifetimes, according to a new report.

The survey conducted by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, in collaboration with Gallup International explores attitudes to malaria among young people aged between 18-34 years in six countries: Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa.

The data indicates that youth in Kenya are most likely to volunteer their time to support malaria control efforts, including distributing mosquito nets (64%) besides sharing information about malaria on social media (45%).

A third of those polled  hope to make a difference by engaging community leaders (33%), while a fifth (19%) want to call on national policymakers to prioritize malaria.

More than 90% of youth in Kenya already take preventative measures to protect themselves and their families against the disease according to the report. The findings were similar in other countries except for South Africa where malaria is less common.

In Rwanda and Senegal, which have made significant progress against malaria in recent years, young people aged 18-24 were 20 percentage points less likely to have had direct experience with the disease compared to those aged 25-34, showing how country-led action protects young people’s futures. In higher burden countries, the risk did not change between age groups.

While only a quarter (27%) of youth surveyed across the continent believe leaders are doing enough to end malaria, youth in Kenya were somewhat more confident (35%). Notably, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta has demonstrated strong leadership in the fight against malaria in his role as Chair of the African Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (ALMA).

Earlier this year, President Kenyatta launched the ‘Malaria Youth Army’, working with youth leaders across the African continent to champion youth engagement, resource commitments for malaria elimination and promote innovation, research and development.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the malaria response, particularly in the highest malaria burden countries where the rate of progress has slowed in recent years, and the full impact is not yet known.

In 2020, frontline health workers and governments, with support from partners, sustained more than 90% of mosquito net distribution and seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaigns in 30 countries, avoiding a worst-case scenario of a doubling of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 alone.

Despite these efforts, however, three quarters of youth in Kenya (75%) feel national attention towards malaria has decreased during the pandemic, in comparison to 61% of the wider sample.

A malaria-free world is absolutely achievable within a generation, but only with increased action and commitment from all levels of society – from small communities to global policymakers. It’s encouraging to see that youth in both higher and lower burdened countries are so optimistic and passionate about ending malaria. I must now urge all young people across the continent to put this into action this World Malaria Day by calling on their leaders to draw the line against malaria”. Says Whitney Mwangi, an ALMA Youth Advisory Council member.

These findings informed Draw the Line Against Malaria – a youth-focused, Africa-first global campaign launched by the RBM Partnership and its partners this year. Supported by African icons in sport and culture, the campaign urges youth across the continent to steal their futures back from malaria – a disease which caused 409,000 deaths in 2019 and continues to prevent children from going to school and realizing their full potential.

World Malaria Day 2021 puts the spotlight on nations reaching zero malaria

The survey findings were released one month ahead of World Malaria Day 2021, the global awareness day celebrated on 25th April each year.

This year’s theme – ‘Zero Malaria – Draw the Line Against Malaria’ – will celebrate progress achieved by a diverse set of countries who have achieved zero malaria since 2000, encourage a growing number of nations on the cusp of elimination, and re-ignite the movement to end malaria in countries still impacted by the disease.

To mark World Malaria Day,  the World Health Organization (WHO) and the RBM Partnership will this year jointly hold the Virtual Forum on Malaria Elimination.

On this occasion, WHO will announce 27 countries and territories that have the potential to eliminate malaria by 2025, as well as review progress towards the achievement of the 2020 global elimination milestone of 10 countries recording three consecutive years of zero malaria cases since 2015.

These include Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan and Algeria, as well as El Salvador, the first Central American country to be certified malaria-free earlier this year.

In addition, countries around the world will observe World Malaria Day with their own events, with several countries launching nationwide Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaigns and others illuminating landmarks at 21:00 local time on 25th April in a global relay to celebrate progress towards zero malaria around the world and highlight the urgency of ending this disease everywhere.

“This World Malaria Day we celebrate countries around the globe that have reached zero malaria since 2000, and a growing number of nations that are on the cusp of elimination. Yet despite this incredible progress, World Malaria Day must also serve as a crucial reminder for people everywhere that we must accelerate with urgency to fight this preventable and treatable disease that still takes a child’s life every two minutes. Over this past year, COVID-19 has threatened our hard-won progress against malaria, so now more than ever we must make a commitment to end malaria once and for all.” Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of the RBM Partnership

Ahead of World Malaria Day, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria is urging people in Africa and across the globe to Draw the Line Against Malaria at ZeroMalaria.org and join the conversation on social media by using #DrawTheLine, #ZeroMalaria and #WorldMalariaDay.

 

  

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