Liberia: Youths Brainstorm to Ensure National Inclusion In Malaria Elimination at Grassroot Level
MONROVIA – YouthAid-Liberia and partners have commenced a two-day consultative meeting on the elimination of malaria in the country, with a call for a holistic approach towards the combat against the killer disease through the full inclusion and involvement of citizens, particularly youths at the grass-root level.
The consultative meeting commenced in Monrovia on Tuesday, June 8 with funding from Civil Society for Malaria Elimination based in Yaounde, Cameroun with support from Impact Sante Afrique (ISA).
It is in partnership with the Liberia Coordinating Mechanism (LCM), which is managing projects that are being sponsored by Global Fund in Liberia.
According to the Executive Director of YouthAid-Liberia, Swaliho M. Fofana, the voices of young people have not been captured in the national policy to combat against the malaria disease in Liberia.
He claimed that young people have been marginalized and denied the necessary support and training to adequately prepare them to engage into activities that will educate the locals and others on the prevention and elimination of malaria, beginning at the grass root level.
“This meeting is being organized for young people to get engage in malaria elimination. Most time their voices are not being heard-from the government circle young people are not being captured. We want for the voices of youths and the communities to be heard in the concept note that will be submitted to the Global Fund to eliminate malaria”.
“We are meeting to put ideas together and make sure we have one idea cemented and it is structured well and recommended to the LCM which will also forward our voice through the Country Concept Note to the Global Fund. Since the LCM is making an application to the Global Fund for money, we want for our voices to be heard. We are asking for voice addition in the national platform and we are also asking for capacity building when the necessary funding comes”.
He disclosed that young Liberians were galvanized from all sectors of the country to brainstorm and ensure a stronger youth engagement towards malaria elimination.
Fofana pointed out that the lack of empowerment or support, especially capacity building for young people at the grass root level, makes it difficult for them to get fully involved in the combat against malaria.
He maintained that the prevalent rate of malaria cases in Liberia can be easily curtailed or eradicated if community dwellers, particularly young people are empowered and seen as “key players” towards the fight against the disease.
He, however, disclosed that recommendations from the consultative meeting will be forwarded to the LCM for possible inclusion in Liberia’s plan to combat against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
According to him, a National Youth Task Force on Malaria Elimination will be established at the end of the meeting.
Fofana added that members of the task force will be volunteers that would serve as “Ambassadors” in their respective communities for the elimination of malaria.
He stated that the group will also ensure that government is held accountable for funding it receives for the combat against malaria.
He observed that though efforts are being made by government and its partners towards the fight against malaria, steps must be taken for the setting up of structures at the community level.
“Government receives funding but these funding do not drop down to the communities that is why the malaria elimination project has not been met. We are hoping that community structures are set and community people are empowered because, they are the end users”.
Selling mosquito nets
Fofana further claimed that the disease has not been eliminated to a greater extent in Liberia because some leaders in the communities are engaged into the illegal sale of mosquito nets entrusted to them to distribute to the locals.
“Our baby mothers and leaders received the mosquito nets. But most times when you go to the communities, people are telling you that we the end users are not receiving support or receiving the mosquito nets. So, if people are receiving the mosquito nets and selling it and not giving it to the communities, it will create that challenge for the society. The first impact of this project should be the communities”.