Engaging Youth in the WHO African Regional Office’s Transformational Agenda

You may recall my letter, dating of 20 February 2017, to who would become the next WHO Director-General, with a persuasion for the leader to implement reforms in goal-directed efforts and sufficiently increase the role of youth and student-led organisations in decision-making processes at all levels of the World Health Organisation. As the WHO African Regional Office prepares to host the first ever Africa Health Forum in Kigali next week, I must give it up for Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director, and her for recognising the need to engaging Africa’s youth towards achieving Universal Health Coverage. During the forum, WHO AFRO is organising a youth-led interactive side event as an avenue for the institution to strengthen its strategic partnership with the youth in the region and provide a platform for young people to speak about their own involvement in Universal Health Coverage.

In Rwanda, youth and student-led organisations have taken up the lead on several issues and proven to be effective over years. As examples, the Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students Association is known for hosting continent-wide conferences for students and young people with aim to advance pharmacy practice on the continent and worldwide; the Medical Students Association of Rwanda is at the forefront of combatting infectious diseases in their numerous campaigns against diseases like Malaria; the Rwanda Village Concept Project works in communities to address basic issues like sanitation by building clean toilets in rural areas; the Rwandan Children’s Cancer Relief organises a yearly campaign and walk to educate communities on cancers affecting children, among many other organisations and initiatives.

It is then indispensable for policy makers across Africa to channel this drive, support and partner with the youth and these unique organisations to make leaps in Universal Health Coverage indicators.

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