ReAct Africa  –  Youth Engagement

African Youth AMR Alliance Task Force Launch

Time for the African Youth to Take Lead in the Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance: ReAct Africa convenes launching of the African Youth AMR Alliance Task Force

Members of the African Youth AMR Alliance Task Force with the ReAct Africa team

Africa faces unique challenges in the fight against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) as a result of factors such as weak health systems, poverty, and social determinants of infectious diseases. Most of these contextual drivers of AMR have little support and are frequently ignored. The burden of AMR disproportionately affects the African region, in 2019 there were 1.05 million deaths associated and 250,00 deaths directly attributed to bacterial drug-resistant infections in Africa causing more deaths than HIV/AIDS and Malaria in the region. Currently, the youth are also not involved in important decision making deliberations within their respective countries. It is therefore important that voices from Africa and other low- and middle-income countries are listened to and resources adjusted to address some of the contextual needs. Recognition of these unique challenges among different youth-led organizations serves as the founding pillar of the African Youth AMR Alliance Task Force.

On 5th and 6th March 2024, ReAct Africa convened the inaugural workshop and official launch of the African Youth AMR Alliance Task Force. This was a culmination of ongoing discussion and collaborative engagements that also yielded in the policy paper, “Youth For a Resilient Future: Policy Strategies to Tackle AMR in Africa 2024 – 2030″ during the AMR Youth Summit held on the 17th and 18th January 2024 with the support of the ReAct Africa and other key stakeholders. The inaugural workshop had attendance from the pioneering youth-led organizations that adopted the policy paper at the AMR Youth Summit representing youth-led organizations from various African countries.

Over the last 10 years, ReAct Africa has been building capacity for the youth and has also been technically and financially supporting different youth organizations and initiatives in the African region. This support has immensely contributed to a rising youth movement within the continent. ReAct Africa recognizes, respects, and appreciates the potential of young people in mitigating the threat of AMR within the African continent.

Mirfin Mpundu, Director ReAct Africa. Photo: ReAct Africa

“We recognize the youth as a critical stakeholder in the fight against AMR. Youth Engagement has always been a key priority area for us. I am really inspired by the emerging youth movement within Africa anchored on our capacity building interventions and support for the youth over the years. The Task Force will amplify youth-led AMR mitigation efforts in Africa carrying their voice in many platforms, and also increase collaborative engagements. The youth are not only leaders of tomorrow but also leaders of today. We are humbled by the trust bestowed in us by the youth and will continue supporting them in this journey.” says Dr. Mirfin Mpundu, Executive Director, ReAct Africa.

The Inaugural workshop was also graced by the presence of National Antimicrobial Stewardship Interagency Committee (NASIC) Kenya, Africa CDC, and Quadripartite through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The key stakeholders promised to support the Task Force in its activities. Members of the Task Force agreed through consensus on the governance structures that will guide the operation of the Task Force. The taskforce also deliberated on key recommendations from the youth in Africa to feed into the upcoming United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AMR and how best to engage in the process.

Members of African Youth AMR Alliance Task Force with representatives from National Antimicrobial Stewardship Interagency Committee (NASIC) Kenya, Africa CDC, and Quadripartite represented by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and ReAct Africa.

The formation of the African Youth AMR Alliance Task Force is a major milestone in the fight against AMR within our continent. As a young person who has worked in the AMR landscape for many years, it is a dream come true and I am immensely grateful for the support from our ReAct Africa team.” says Daniel Waruingi, Capacity Development and Youth Engagement Manager at ReAct Africa.

“Antimicrobial resistance is an intergenerational issue that threatens the efficacy of modern medicine and the well-being of future generations. Young people must mobilize now to address the challenges of AMR or risk paying the ultimate price with our health and future. The Launch of the African Youth Antimicrobial Resistance Alliance Task Force is timely, to empower the African Youth voice in demanding global action on AMR and mobilize collective youth effort in addressing this pandemic’s disproportionate impact on the African Continent.” said Dr. Akinpelu Mayowa, Chairperson Africa Public Health Students Network in the Task Force after being appointed chairperson of the Task Force.

Lucy Gatitu representing Africa One Health University Network, reinforced Dr. Mayowa’s message after being appointed Secretary of the Task Force adding that, “The African Youth AMR Task Force will spearhead uniting of all African Youths and promote concerted efforts in combating AMR, a global pandemic disproportionately affecting Africa. We are the current and future leaders and have the solutions towards this pandemic, our potential needs to be recognized. By 2050 if the projects made are to become a reality, we will be the most affected. Laying this foundation now will promote a healthier future for the generations to come”

Currently, the Task Force comprises leaders from 13 youth-led organizations which are:

  1. Africa Public Health Students Network (AfriPHSN) Initiative
  2. Students Against Superbugs (SAS) Africa
  3. Roll Back Antimicrobial Resistance (RBA) Initiative
  4. Federation of African Medical Students Associations (FAMSA)
  5. Africa One Health University Network (AFROHUN)
  6. International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF) AfRO
  7. Alliance Against Antimicrobial Resistance (Triple A)
  8. Generational Stewards for Antimicrobials (GSA)
  9. Action des Jeunes contre la Résistance aux Antimicrobiens (AJRAM)
  10. AMR Now Initiative
  11. Snowman Artland
  12. Youth Empowerment Development (YED) Foundation
  13. Ducit Blue Foundation

As the official launch event came to an end, Julian Nyamupachitu, the Deputy Director of ReAct Africa, expressed her excitement about this momentous milestone. She is confident that the Task Force will play a pivotal role in AMR mitigation in Africa as youth are energetic, innovative and resilient key change agents. This milestone is important in advancing the youth engagement initiatives of ReAct Africa, which has taken the lead in engaging a diverse array of youth-led organizations from across different African countries and also presents an opportunity to align efforts with various stakeholders involved in addressing AMR in the region.

The Task Force is currently setting up structures and working on a 5-year strategic plan and will thereafter embark on onboarding other youth-led organizations working on AMR in the African continent to ensure that no youth is left behind.