H.E. DG’s Opening Remarks for the Africa CDC’s Youth Pre-Conference: – Africa CDC


Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed delegates, distinguished guests, and most importantly, the vibrant and dynamic youth leaders of Africa,

It is with great pleasure that I stand before you today at the opening of the Youth Pre-Conference on the margins of the 3rd Annual International Conference on Public Health in Africa. This gathering marks a momentous occasion —a celebration of youth leadership, innovation, and commitment to building a Safer and Healthier Africa.

As we embark on this unprecedented Youth Pre-Conference, we are witnessing an epochal development in public health governance on the African continent. This conference, convened with the theme “Youth Leadership for a Safer and Healthier Africa,” underscores the pivotal role that the youth must play in shaping the health security of our continent.

Youth, constituting around 65% of Africa’s population, are recognized throughout history for their enthusiasm, innovativeness, and energy. Still, actual youth involvement in critical decision-making processes needs to improve, despite this recognition. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the urgency for change. In addition to promoting engagement, the Youth Pre-Conference 2023 aims to saw the seed that propel Africa’s vibrant youth into public health leadership roles.

Excellencies, esteemed youth delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,

We are here because we recognize that a Safer and Healthier Africa extends beyond the absence of war and blurred socio-economic disparities. It is about achieving a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, as exemplified by the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has been a harsh teacher, emphasising the need for a robust health infrastructure and resilient health systems.

In the face of these challenges, the Africa CDC, in alignment with the New Public Health Order for Africa, has launched the Youth Advisory Team for Health (YAT4H) and organised this Youth Pre-Conference to amplify the voices and perspectives of young change-makers. This is not just an acknowledgement of your potential but a recognition of your ability to drive transformative change.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the power of youth-led initiatives, such as the African Union COVID-19 Vaccination Bingwa Initiative. Young Africans took charge, leading grassroots drives that contributed to the increased vaccination rates across the continent. Your efforts in addressing not only the vaccine distribution challenges but also the broader infodemic of false information showcased the tremendous power of young champions in shaping Africa’s health agenda. Young Africans were also at the forefront of innovating and developing novel solutions to the challenges faced by communities during the pandemic. Bingwa is not just about advocating for vaccinations; it’s about fostering a sense of ownership, empowerment, and a collective commitment to public health.

I am thrilled to announce that this year’s Youth Pre-Conference and the main Annual International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) will feature an impressive array of poster presentations from remarkable young Africans. These presentations will showcase our emerging leaders’ ingenuity and groundbreaking research, both at the forefront of the Youth Pre-Conference and within the broader discussions at CPHIA. This platform provides an invaluable opportunity for these young minds to share their discoveries, innovations, and insights, fostering knowledge exchange and collaboration that will undoubtedly contribute to the advancement of healthcare in Africa. And this platform offers a chance for the elder generations to listen and learn from our youth. The commitment to showcasing the achievements of our youth underscores our belief in the transformative power that young professionals hold in shaping the future of public health on the continent.

As we celebrate the achievements of young leaders, we must also acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead. “Meaningful participation” is not just about having a seat at the table; it’s about entrusting the youth with genuine decision-making responsibilities. We must cultivate ecosystems that enable young individuals to initiate, nurture, and lead their own platforms, fostering a culture of true youth leadership.

Moreover, we must recognize the vast spectrum of youth experiences. We must recognise and address the unique challenges faced by individual subsets within this demographic, including young women, those living with disabilities, migrant populations, and other marginalized groups. Only by embracing this diversity can we truly make progress.

The digital revolution, while promising, comes with its own set of barriers. Lack of access to diverse and local funding sources, limited representation, and the need for skills development are challenges we must overcome to ensure sustainable growth for young innovators and researchers. One of the New Public Health Order’s pivotal pillars is the commitment to increased domestic resources for health security. Therefore, by mobilizing fundraising and allocating resources effectively, we aspire to overcome these persistent barriers. The New Public Health Order recognizes that fostering an environment conducive to innovation requires not only financial backing but also a comprehensive approach to skills development and equitable representation.

Excellencies, esteemed youth delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,

Africa stands in need of role models and inspirations who can serve as guiding lights for our youth. They exemplify the values, virtues, and achievements that young individuals aspire to in their own lives. Role models are living examples of what can be achieved through dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to positive values.

Today, I wish to extend my recognition to two remarkable individuals, our distinguished First Ladies, who grace this occasion with their presence and exemplify the ideals that our young African people can look up to and emulate.

Firstly, let me extend our heartfelt appreciation to Madam Mutinta Hichilema, the First Lady of Zambia, for her unwavering commitment to humanitarian causes and her active engagement in community development programs across Zambia. Madam Mutinta Hichilema’s dedication to uplifting the lives of her fellow citizens is commendable. She also serves as the Ambassador of the Merck Foundation’s “More Than a Mother” Campaign, highlighting the vital role of women in society beyond motherhood. Her advocacy for religious tolerance and interfaith harmony in Zambia is another testament to her commitment to unity and understanding among people of different faiths. Her initiatives aimed at promoting social cohesion and national development reflect her deep concern for the well-being of her nation.

Our second guest of honor is the esteemed First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, a figure of outstanding influence and leadership. Notably, she currently serves as the President of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), a role that underscores her commitment to advancing the socio-economic development of our continent. Mrs. Geingos also holds the distinguished position of being the UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls, where her tireless efforts promote the health and rights of the youth. Her involvement in the Virchow Foundation for Global Health and the WomenLift Global Advisory Board further demonstrates her dedication to global public health and the empowerment of women in leadership.

Mrs. Geingos has earned international recognition, being ranked among the “100 Most Reputable Africans” and one of the “100 Most Influential African Women” by various international organizations and publications. Her two-time receipt of the Dususu awards for her work on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights stands as a testament to her impactful contributions in this crucial area.

I have had the privilege of knowing Mrs. Geingos personally during my time in Namibia, where I observed her remarkable qualities firsthand. She brings a wealth of experience to her roles, with over two decades of expertise in the financial sector, having held senior positions in capital markets, corporate finance, and private equity. Her dedication and achievements were recognised with National Honors awarded by Former President Pohamba, acknowledging her outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development of Namibia.

Excellencies, esteemed youth delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion, the youth’s energy, innovation, and commitment are indispensable for achieving a Safer and Healthier Africa. The Youth Pre-Conference is a call to action for young Africans to take the architect position for the continent’s health future. By recognising and empowering you all, we can guide Africa towards a tomorrow that is not only safer and healthier but also one where the youth plays a central role in shaping the destiny of our beloved continent.

I want to use this opportunity to extend my gratitude to my Africa CDC colleagues and all partners like MCF, GIZ and others who contributed to the organisation of this event.

I look forward to witnessing the incredible impact that will undoubtedly arise from the discussions and initiatives that will emerge from this Youth Pre-Conference. Together, let us build a healthier and safer Africa for all.



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