16th June 2021- NAIROBI, Kenya – On the day of the African child, Amref Health Africa the largest indigenous health NGO launched its first Global Youth & Adolescent Strategy in a momentous virtual ceremony graced by Ms. Prudence Ngwenya, the Head of Division at the Youth Development, Women, Gender and Youth Directorate at the African Union Commission. This strategy firmly responded to the theme for the Day of the African Child 2021 which seeks to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children, 30 years after the adoption of the Charter.
This theme is poignantly responsive to the current disparities that African children face today despite advancements in policy commitments to youth and adolescent development. For example, over the past couple of years, HIV has been the leading cause of death among adolescents (10 to 19 years) in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNAIDS, 2018), while youth account for 60% of Africa’s unemployment (World Bank, 2016) – a missed opportunity to capitalize on one of the continent’s greatest assets for growth. Even more crucial is the need to provide an enabling environment for the youth to exercise their right to influence decisions that affect them.
The Amref Health Africa strategy is a step in the right direction towards responding and actively engaging on these aforementioned challenges experienced by adolescents and youth in Africa. With a presence in 35 African countries, this strategy speaks to the firm belief that adolescents and youth have what it takes to fundamentally shift the health and socio-economic landscape of the continent.
“The Amref Health Africa Youth and Adolescent Strategy will operationalise the dynamism that young people hold to help solve our most pressing issues in Africa and the world, making space for young people to have meaningful engagement and participation in the design and delivery of solutions that are relevant and will resonate on this dear continent we call Africa,” notes Dr. Githinji Gitahi, GCEO at Amref Health Africa.
These sentiments were echoed by Prudence Ngwenya in her remarks on how the power and influence of young people goes far beyond the spaces we have created for their participation. This strategy will be a refreshing change in recognising that young people are drivers of change, they create solutions for our communities and leave imprints for others to follow.
The virtual event attended by over 1500 participants goes to show the growing needs of the youth and adolescent population and the urgency with which organizations need to respond to these impending challenges, if African countries are to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
Find out more on the exciting Amref Global Adolescent & Youth Strategy here.