First Lady Gertrude Mutharika says African youth need space to find solutions to their challenges and explore their potential to effectively take part in the development of their nations.
The First Lady said allowing and encouraging youth participation in finding solutions to their problems can lead to practical innovations in addressing health challenges.
Mutharika was speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, recently where she was invited to make a keynote address at a youth conference whose theme was Towards Healthier Africa: People, Systems and Innovations.
She said Africa has a collective responsibility to empower the youth and support them to become active participants in the development of the continent.
Said Mutharika: “For a long time, we have sidelined the youth, and we have not given them enough space to unleash their potential. We need to take action around the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] for the benefit of our young people.
“As we are aware, at least 10 out of the 17 SDGs relate directly to the youth. The global development agenda is tilted in favour of the youth. We, therefore, have no excuse not to put the youth at the centre of our national development agenda.”
Mutharika said there is need to prioritise the education and health of the young people to safeguard their future.
She said the conference gives an opportunity for the youth to brainstorm on innovative ideas which they can use to promote their livelihood, realise new ways of promoting their health and economic development.
Speaking earlier, Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said one of the goals Africa must share as a continent is the ideal of an inclusive and responsive healthcare system that caters for the needs of all people including the youth.
“Youth friendly healthcare systems that respect the needs of youth and the core values of our communities, are critical to empowering this generation and securing socio-economic and political stability for the future,” she said.
The conference, which was organised by the Africa Medical Research Foundation (Amref) was aimed at bringing together researchers, policymakers, the private sector, advocates for health and civil society to reflect on home-grown solutions to achieving the SDGs on the continent.
The conference provided a platform for sharing scientific research findings and best practices for addressing d health systems in Africa
Amref chief executive officer Githinji Gitahi said Africa must stop looking down on its youth, demoralising them with old-fashioned ideas, but put them as central, focal points for the development of better policies. n