Mr Augustine Kumah, the Executive Director of the Centre for Adolescents and Women’s Health Initiative (CAWHI) Ghana, has been selected among 25 others from Tanzania, Ghana and Sierra Leone under the Youth Leaders for Health Programme.
The youth leaders for health programme is a one-year leadership development programme put together by RESULTS UK alongside Hope for Future Generations (Ghana), CISMAT-SL (Sierra Leone), Health Promotion Tanzania – HDT and WACI Health which seeks to support 25 young campaigners based in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania to develop their skills and knowledge needed to help accelerate progress to end malaria and strengthen health systems in their countries, Africa and globally. The youth leaders will be influencing decision-makers during key moments such as national elections and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to try and end the malaria epidemic, achieve universal health coverage (UHC) and create lasting impact.

Africa is home to 93% of the world’s malaria burden. After 15 years of consistent declines in malaria cases and deaths, the last 3 years have seen progress slowing, with many countries now experiencing a challenging increase in malaria cases. There are many reasons for this increase, including a reduction in funding to reduce malaria, less urgency about the impact of malaria within affected countries and increased anti-malaria drug resistance.

The best way to ensure malaria cases are adequately handled is with a strong healthcare system that can diagnose and treat malaria cases as quickly as possible. However, for too many people around the world, access to this life-saving service is blocked by hospital fees or a lack of facilities to diagnose symptoms rapidly.
People have a right to the healthcare they need without incurring financial hardship. Citizens should have a say in how services are provided, and people advocating for health in their communities can be powerful agents of change. Thankfully there are global efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and countries around the world are increasingly turning their attention to strengthening their health systems so that infectious diseases like malaria can be tackled more effectively.

The twenty-five African Youth Leaders passionate about health and healthcare systems were taken through a five-day global advocacy training workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to develop new skills, hear from experts and learn more about malaria and health system strengthening. This is to enable them become leaders in advocacy for improved access to health and to put their newly developed skills into practice by meeting decision-makers at international gatherings and summits such as the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda as well as other national, regional and global events.

The young Public Health Practitioner and Public Health Advocate in an interview said “Advocacy is about collective action and utilizing the right opportunities to push for action. 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.”

Augustine is also Youth Trainer/Coach and a PhD student at the Department of Community Health, Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI), University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria. He is currently assessing the Quality of Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Ghana as his PhD thesis, supervised and mentored by Prof. Obehi Okojie, a Professor of Community Health at the Department of Community Health, University of Benin, Nigeria.