Yesterday, August 12, 2020, young people all over the world gathered to commemorate International Youth Day. The theme for International Youth Day (IYD2020) this year was Youth Engagement for Global Action.
The aim of IYD2020 is to shed light on the need to enable the engagement of youth by making local, national and global institutions more inclusive and integrated to strengthening their capacity and relevance to achieve global action for every people in society.
The Youth Leaders for Health program is one of these initiatives. It is a leadership development program that brings together youth from three countries in Africa – Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania to build their capacity, develop skills and knowledge to help accelerate the progress to end Malaria and strengthen health systems in these countries and globally too.
The program is relevant especially during this time when COVID-19 is stretching healthcare systems beyond their limit. Young people in Africa are urging for increased investments in health to build stronger health systems and for sustained focus on defeating malaria, as the world works to fight COVID-19.
This international Youth Day comes at an extraordinary time when the current coronavirus pandemic is killing thousands of lives across the world. However, it also presents a great opportunity to showcase youth as effective drivers of change and to call upon African and world leaders to invest in youth and youth participation.
An estimated 75% of Africa’s population is below the age of 35 years old, making young people the bulk of Africa’s total population. Yet, too many youths are unable to participate fully in society. This calls for recognition and support of the youth to achieve and push their full potential. Young people, when empowered and given the right opportunities are effective drivers of change.
Africa, the world’s youngest continent, presents a great prospect and a responsibility for young people on the continent to lead various initiatives, to promote action in the communities, countries, and on the continent as well.
As we celebrated International Youth Day 2020, youth leaders for Health in Africa, note that now, more than ever, young people must be engaged meaningfully. They have asked to be engaged in the development and implementation of programs for sustainable development at community, national, and global levels.
They pledge to support Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals, revealing a key message to national, regional, and world leaders revealing more than only one goal. Specifically, they have asked to invest in youth as being the surest pathway to achieve Africa’s Agenda 2063 gaining lasting change in health now and after COVID-19, but they also aim to be at the table in global health, to be able to afford opportunities in making decisions that affect young people’s future, achieving universal health coverage (UHC), and creating a lasting impact on sustainable development.