As years pass, there is a paradigm shift in causes of mortality from communicable to non-communicable diseases, the burden of NCDs has intensified globally but as well become a disaster for low income countries.
A specific group that has over a few past years not been involved are the young people and people living with NCDs. Over the years, the role of youth in the struggle has been noticed, special thanks to the many civil societies involving young people I daily activities.
For NCDs specifically; young people should be looked at as; potential patients, strong advocate group and witnesses in the future for the impact done today.
My attendance and participation at the Global NCD Forum 2017 is itself a testimony of youth involvement. What can young people do to fully contribute towards beating NCDs?. Reflecting about my participation at the Forum, I draw lessons on what has been done, what we are doing an what we are planning to do.
Pre Forum meeting; discussions activities and call to action clearly set ground for us as young people and what we can do In preparation for the UN HLM, the call to action once put into specific country contexts will be a powerful tool to use in the fight against NCDs.
Through the several sessions in the workshop, a stepping stone was laid for youth advocates and young people to be fully capacitated to implement youth led programs and activities in their countries in preparation for UN HLM and beyond, looking at 2018 as our lucky year in the NCDs calendar.
Youth involvement in CSOs activities and projects:
Having youth involved in several activities and projects by various CSOs at country level, creating leadership positions for young advocates in the established organizations is one obvious way of having young people own NCD related programs but as well strengthen mobilization for advocacy and building numbers, there we can define meaningful involvement, for programs and events at a regional level, we shall jubilate seeing young people present and involved in the organization.
The Sharjah pre-forum Youth meeting is enough evidence that we need to support young people through capacity building workshops, fellowships and even mentorships. The impact that was created after the 2 day workshop we had, using the acquired knowledge and skills at the Forum, standing heads up to speak at panels clearly demonstrated the impact left by the workshop we had, this was just 22 youth advocates from 6 WHO regions, What if we had similar workshops organized at a regional level, country level? We shall have built a big network of informed youth and young people ready to make 2018 count. Thanks to CSOs with already existing programs of such, together we shall hit the mark.
Supporting Youth Initiatives:
It is not surprising that out of the youth participants at the Forum, at least everyone is running though small but an activity aimed at improving quality of life and reducing the burden of NCDs. These initiatives once supported and strengthened will accelerate the speed we are moving at towards achieving our targets. The NCD community is such a network whose impact can easily be assessed. Assessing community awareness for instance before and after an intervention, access to essential and quality health care are components whose results can manifest with in a shortest possible time; with youth numbers, we can implement these and reach out to as many as we can. SUPPORT THE YOUTH.
NCD work should greatly be financed greatly if we are to reap from our efforts, this trickles down especially to low income countries where health financing is low, but even the less allocated for health never consider NCD as a key priority. If we pushed for increased funding into the sector, then pressurized our states and Health departments to consider NCDs as a key priority, rest assured we shall celebrate in 2018 and beyond.
My interaction with senior members at the Forum reignited my spirit of listening and understanding what it means to drive an agenda, what it means to achieve a level of success, it was such an opportunity for me to interact with organization leads, decorated Forum speakers and learn from them, this is a dream opportunity for many young advocates out there in the world. We need to create a safe environment for the next generation.
As a youth advocate, my strategies, commitment and dream is to see ourselves together with our mentors celebrate the fruits of our sweat.
“Together for the common good”
Dr. Twineamatsiko Andrew
YPCDN-Uganda Chapter Member
Youth Advocate: Caring and Living As Neighbors (CLAN)