Young people are central to malaria elimination.
Rotaractors are making a difference in fighting malaria.
“With the current demographic dividend of young people in Africa, it is imperative that young people are meaningfully engaged to build sustainable and healthy communities through advocacy, research, innovations and community actions.”
Aloyce P. Urassa, BSc.As a health laboratory scientist and youth leader enthusiastic in global health research, advocacy, innovations and leadership I have always been dedicating my time to community activities which aims at advancing health and well-being of the people. These efforts support the continental goal to build the Africa we Want (Agenda 2063), Sustainable development goals (SDGs 2030) and Universal health coverage (UHC) as well as the essence of ‘service beyond self’ and ‘serve to change lives’ by Rotary international. In this article I narrate the good work that young people in Rotary (the Rotaractors) have been and continue doing to serve and save lives specifically by fighting to eliminate malaria from the face of the world. Rotary through its action groups and Rotarians led organizations such as Rotarians Against Malaria Global (RAM Global), Rotarians Eliminating Malaria in Tanzania (REMIT) and Malaria Partners International (MPI) have constantly demonstrated a great sense of believe in young people (Rotaractors and interacts) by engaging them in malaria projects and supporting their great ideas. In October 2020, Rotary club of Moshi through Rotarians Eliminating malaria in Tanzania supported the 10 rotaractors from Rotaract club of KCMC with a 1000GBP to do a project at Nyumba ya Mungu secondary school where they trained students on malaria elimination, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), Environmental protection and importance of building a reading and learning habit as means to build a healthy community. Furthermore, rotaractors provided 233 mosquito nets to boarding students and over 100 books on different subjects to support learning. On the same year in November, Rotarians Against Malaria Global awarded a small grant of 452USD to a Rotaractor from KCMC to conduct a survey in Tanga region on malaria and malaria interventions. Alongside the survey, two Rotaractors who are laboratory scientists trained 20 community health volunteers at Pangani district and 19 at Muheza district on malaria prevention and environment protection and went door to door to over 30 households and 10 health centers to understand their awareness on malaria prevention which opened a door to raising awareness among households in the districts. The rotaractors met local government leaders and malaria focus persons at district and regional level to further understand the need on health matters which served a s baseline to more projects. March 2021, MPI and RAM Global approved another grant for the KCMC Rotaract club amounting to 5166USD whereby rotaractors contributed 100USD to support malaria interventions in Muheza. 1411 mosquito nets were distributed to 2 public hospitals, 33 dispensaries and 5 boarding schools. 20 community health volunteers were also trained by professionals from Rotaract club of KCMC, National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and Muheza district health office. On world Malaria Day 2021, Rotarians Eliminating Malaria in Tanzania (REMIT) and RAM global offered a 2000USD grant to Rotaract Club of KCMC and Interact Club of KIWOCE through Rotary Club of Moshi who worked together for an event at Hai district around Sadala area to raise awareness on malaria and healthy lifestyle. 488 people from the community received mosquito nets where they pay 3000/-TZS for a net (about 33% of the cost) – this is to ensure that they have a feeling of ownership and take good care of the net. Very poor families, on the confirmation of the Village committee were not charged. Attractive flyers designed by the Rotaractors and Interactors were not only handed out. But also broadcasted over loud speakers for all to hear. 370 went for further health advise which was offered for free by rotaractors who are health professionals from KCMC Rotaract club. The future! Currently, the rotaractors are looking forward to a bigger project anticipating to distribute over 30,000 mosquito nets to communities in need around Tanzania, pilot a program for community health worker training, run an environment protection campaign across the country and recruit more young people to join the fight. In conclusion, young people can do great things with just a minimal support from stakeholders. Young people are professionals and can carry-on big projects to meaningfully engage communities and actually make massive difference. It is imperative that organizations like Rotary and others capitalize on the great potentials that are within the young generation and consider them as equal partners on the table. About the author Aloyce Urassa is a health laboratory scientist and a global health advocate strongly championing for malaria elimination, heath systems strengthening and universal health coverage. Aloyce serves as a board member for Rotarians Against Malaria Global, Chairperson of African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Youth Advisory Council and a chief operating officer at World Youth Summit. As a rotaractor at KCMC, Aloyce has organized and led several projects including the aforementioned.