In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resilience and strength of communities uniting to tackle health challenges have been evident.
The Mastercard Foundation’s youth campaign highlights the need for ongoing vigilance and action, even though the global health emergency status has changed.
This campaign, led and driven by youth in collaboration with Trace Eastern Africa, underscores the significant role of young men and women as health change-makers within their communities.
By concentrating on creating healthier and more resilient communities, we can not only protect against future health crises but also stimulate economic opportunities.
Young individuals are taking the initiative to address health disparities within their communities by organizing health awareness activities and establishing local healthcare initiatives across both urban and rural areas of Kenya and the broader East Africa region.
These efforts enhance community well-being and pave the way for sustainable economic growth.
Youth and Women at the Helm
The campaign is rooted in believing that youth and women should be at the forefront of instigating change. This belief is based on the notion that lasting transformation begins with those who have a deep understanding of their communities.
Young individuals like Fatima Njoroge, a 21-year-old from Nairobi, Kenya, have responded to this call to action. Fatima is passionate about addressing water scarcity in slums and the related diseases that affect her community.
She believes that becoming a health champion can empower her neighbours with knowledge and solutions to improve access to safe water.
Likewise, women like Amina Mwamba, a 25-year-old community health worker from Tanzania, are playing crucial roles in transforming perceptions of health centres. Amina is dedicated to maternal health issues and aims to bridge the gap in access to prenatal care.
These inspiring stories highlight the dedication and vision of young individuals and women who are addressing immediate health issues while also contributing to their communities’ long-term well-being.
A Call to Collaborate for a Brighter Future
The campaign’s central message, “It’s up to us,” serves as a call to action for individuals, communities, and stakeholders to collaborate towards a healthier and more prosperous future. The pandemic has underscored the importance of unity, adaptability, and collective responsibility.
By embracing these values, we can strengthen our communities against future health challenges and create a better tomorrow for everyone.
Building resilient communities is not just about protecting against health crises; it’s also about stimulating economic opportunities.
Healthy communities enable individuals to participate more actively in economic activities, leading to improved livelihoods and sustainable growth.
“Growing up in Central Kenya, I saw the effects of nutritional diseases like Kwashiorkor first-hand. Our staple diets were high in carbohydrates, and access to greens was limited. Protein was not readily available and came at a cost,” shares Matthew Njoroge.
“Now, I am a change champion through a small project that encourages more families to adopt kitchen gardens where they can grow greens and raise meat chickens to supplement their diets. This initiative has kept the disease at bay, and there are fewer nutritional deficiency patients at our local dispensary.”
In both urban and rural settings across the region, young leaders are demonstrating that investing in health yields dividends. They are not only enhancing healthcare access but also contributing to community well-being and economic stability.
“Armed with the knowledge I gained, I started organizing workshops and community meetings to educate my neighbours about safe water practices,” says Fatima.
“I understand what it means to impact the lives of those who need it the most. I am recruiting more water health champions to spread the message far and wide, hoping to change the health status of my people.”
As young health champions like Fatima, Matthew, and Amina step up, Africa can anticipate a future where health challenges are met with resilience, innovation, and the unwavering dedication of its youth.