My message to the young and the young at heart:
Today as we commemorate International Youth Day, we would like to recognize the role young people play towards shaping a better future in health and beyond. The theme this year ‘Youth engagement for Global Action’ puts the spotlight on how the proactive engagement, resilience and creativity of young people at local, national, and global levels can drive progress, especially in times of crisis. This has been true especially for efforts to end tuberculosis(TB) – the world’s top infectious killer.
There has been significant progress over the past year since WHO launched its global youth movement to end TB titled the 1+1 Initiative, followed by the adoption of the Youth Declaration to End TB at the first-ever Global Youth Townhall on Ending TB. The 1+1 Initiative has expanded to include thousands of youth across the world in countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Kenya and Viet Nam. The social media platforms set up as part of the 1+1 youth initiative and social media posts are followed by over 20 000 people, with the number growing each day. More than 100 different youth-led activities and events on ending TB have been conducted worldwide. This includes peer education training in schools and universities, sensitizing young people, encouraging them to become TB advocates, and supporting TB patients in the community with resources and advice.
One inspiring example of youth action to end TB is in Nepal. Young people in the country have established national and provincial youth networks to empower young people to end TB, through capacity building and by ensuring their participation in policy making and community level awareness building. Likewise, in March 2020, Viet Nam’s National TB programme launched the National Youth Movement against TB which aims to reach 10 million young people, and educate all primary school students with knowledge and good practices on combating TB and lung diseases. We urgently need more such inspiring youth initiatives to end TB.
If you are a youth and looking for an opportunity to contribute to the fight against TB, we are just one message away. We are always happy to guide you, provide you with appropriate learning opportunities and a global platform to demonstrate your innovative ideas and creativity.
Please share your ideas, stories and experiences with us and the rest of world using the hashtags #EndTB and #Youth2EndTB or join our Facebook group Youth2EndTB.
Together we can End TB and make our world a better place.
Dr Tereza Kasaeva
Director, WHO Global TB Programme
Country examples: Youth action to End TB
National Youth Movement to End TB Launched officially in Vietnam
On March 20, 2020, on the occasion of World TB Day, Vietnam National Lung Hospital held a congress of the Youth Society against TB and lung diseases – Vietnam Lung Association. The congress elected 11 young people to represent the youth of the country in the Executive Committee of the Association for the term 2020–2022. This was the official commencement of Vietnam’s youth movement against tuberculosis which is the adoption of the Global Youth Movement against TB at a national level. The event was virtually attended by the Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme, Dr Tereza Kasaeva, who encouraged the youth gathered to instill new vitality in efforts to end TB.
The youth movement in Vietnam aims to reach 10 million young people and educate all primary school students with knowledge and good practices on combating TB and lung diseases.
The National Youth Movement against Tuberculosis – Nepal (NYMAT – Nepal) is a good example of youth leadership and engagement in the fight against TB. As a youth network, it provides the opportunity for youth to come to the forefront and join efforts to combat TB. More than 1000 young TB advocates have already joined the National Movement and the number is growing every day. Supporting WHO’s End TB Strategy and the National TB Control program, it aims to foster youth engagement in comprehensive TB related activities conducted within Nepal. With the adoption of the WHO Youth declaration to End TB and WHO’s 1+1 Youth Initiative, the independent youth TB advocates/activists have been working intensively to increase TB awareness and reduce TB stigma, by advocating at local municipal levels to encourage stronger policies to reduce the TB burden. Recently, youth representatives from NYMAT actively contributed to the development of the upcoming National Strategic Plan, by participating in a consultation organized by the National Tuberculosis Center.