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By: Ezinwa Osuoha and Brian Zhang

United to Beat Malaria College Ambassadors on the Importance of Youth Advocacy

April 23, 2024
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As United to Beat Malaria College Ambassadors, we were privileged to participate in the United to Beat Malaria Leadership Summit. It provided a platform not only for learning from fellow advocates and malaria experts but also for sharing our endeavors as youth advocates committed to health equity. Our role as College Ambassadors empowers us to underscore the importance of youth engagement in advancing global equity initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals. It’s imperative that we continue integrating young voices into such crucial spaces to drive meaningful progress.

As World Malaria Day (April 25) approaches, we must orient our advocacy toward a more holistic approach to beat malaria. Social justice exists in different forms for every person — from social media and meetings with members of Congress to opinion journalism and art. The Summit served as one example of a space bringing together researchers, advocates, and students across diverse backgrounds and disciplines — but there are many other equally creative ways to build upon this collaboration.

Through the College Ambassador program, we had the opportunity to speak about ourselves and why we are passionate about addressing the malaria crisis through this campaign. 

What was one research development or initiative discussed during the Summit that stuck with you?

“During the Summit, one research development or initiative that particularly resonated with me was the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). I spoke with many people involved with PMI and learned how it helps track and combat malaria in countries experiencing war or conflict. I even had the opportunity to participate in advocacy day with an epidemiologist who works closely with PMI. Her stories stressed the importance of continued funding for PMI and were eye-opening. Additionally, hearing about PMI’s impact on the ground in Congo and other regions was genuinely inspiring. This work is literally saving lives, and more people need to be aware of it.

— Davida Padi, University of Scranton 

What is your advice to other youth who want to get involved in malaria advocacy but feel as though they don’t have the means to do so? What would you recommend to get started?

“I would say that no effort is too small! Find a small niche that you enjoy, like starting a club at your school or helping spread the word on social media. As you get involved, never be afraid to reach out to others — I’ve found that most people are more than happy to help out others who are working on things they care about. Finding mentors who will help you connect and access resources is the best thing you can do to get started!”

— Amy Fulton, Duke University


“Find your connection to activism and see how your strengths and passions can connect to accelerating action for malaria solutions. Malaria is an incredibly intersectional issue, and there are so many ways to approach creating change — whether through climate action, humanitarian support, or scientific research. I personally decided to join the United to Beat Malaria campaign of the UN Foundation as an Ambassador because I work closely at the intersection of tech, community action, and gender. In my parents’ home country India, mothers and children are especially vulnerable to malaria, and I wanted to be a voice and fight for Indian girls and women experiencing malaria. Whether discovering new solutions for vector-borne disease, innovating new tech products to keep communities safe, or speaking with policymakers to get legislation approved, young people have a place in activism to create tangible solutions. Your voice matters and we need all hands on deck.” 

— Neha Shukla, Duke University


“I would suggest finding an organization that supports the prevention of malaria in your community. If no organization supports the prevention of malaria in your community, I would suggest being involved in an organization that supports global health generally … I would also suggest being involved in organizations that help support the prevention of climate change. Malaria can increase because of the rapid amount of changing temperatures, and this is caused by greenhouse gasses. By being involved in climate change advocacy, you can easily relate malaria to it. The organization does not have to be specifically about malaria, but you could always relate the topic to other topics such as global health and climate change. In that way, you could spread awareness about the prevention of malaria the best you can.    

Alexa Dominique Pascual, American University and Indiana University

How has this Summit prepared you for your advocacy on this coming World Malaria Day? 

“The United to Beat Malaria Summit in D.C. was a moment where we could see the power of the collective. It was incredible to see how the Summit brought together people from all walks of life who are mobilizing for malaria action — scientists, physicians, technologists, gender equity advocates, philanthropists, and grassroots organizers. As I prepare for the advocacy on World Malaria Day, the Summit will serve as a reminder of the power of community action, social media, and mobilizing young people to take action. Whether in AI ethics activism or pushing for gender equity in malaria intervention rollout, I’ll be reminded to continue being authentic and vulnerable in my activism. As young activists and leaders, we have the unique ability to be bold and honest in disrupting age-old power structures to create tangible positive change — and that makes me so excited.” – Neha Shukla, Duke University

The opportunities to become involved in the fight against malaria are endless. If you are looking to stay connected with the United to Beat Malaria campaign and expand your involvement, text CHAMPION to 30644. Interested in becoming a College Ambassador? Look out for updates on Beat Malaria’s social media channels as we will be accepting applications soon for the 2024-2025 cohort. 

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