My involvement with Nothing But Nets first began in 2015 while I was working on the Sustainable Development Goal framework as a member of a Major Group at the United Nations. During the 70th General Assembly, I was asked to represent African youth at a meeting on the Agenda 2063, a framework for sustainable development, where I spoke with officials from the African Union and members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working throughout Africa.
After the meeting, I continued the conversation with youth, many of whom had been significantly affected by malaria. Some of the students stressed how the disease kept kids from school, causing them to miss important information and fall behind. Others discussed the economic impact, citing shop owners and businessmen who would contract malaria and have to close their storefronts.
Not many people realize that 90 percent of deaths from malaria come from sub-Saharan Africa. As the youngest continent, Africa needed a new sense of urgency to combat many of the gaps and challenges it faced, especially malaria.
This conversation led me to look into malaria from a science and global health policy perspective, and indirectly led me to get involved with Nothing But Nets.
Malaria is a multisector issue with significant short and long-term effects. It causes children to miss school, deteriorates human capital and local economies and threatens regional stability. Eliminating malaria in any given state or area in the world would subsequently lead to increased rates of matriculation in education, economic reinvestments from education rates, development of local economies, and more.
With all this in mind, how can we make a difference? The answer is simple: Attend the Nothing But Nets Leadership Summit and join Nothing But Nets as an advocate for continued US funding for malaria programs!
Since 2015, I have attended every Nothing But Nets Summit, where I have engaged with phenomenal speakers, members of civil society and others involved in malaria and the global health sector. The Summit is an opportunity for current and prospective advocates to engage in meaningful conversations about malaria elimination, while learning and sharing best practices from other attendees.
Prior to the 2017 Summit, I was able to encourage youth to attend and become a part of the network of elite advocates known as the “Champions Council.”
Through my work with Nothing but Nets, I have met with many members of Congress, civil society, and private/public sector leaders to develop and discuss the fight towards malaria elimination. I have led workshops on the work of Nothing But Nets, and held in district meetings with members of my community and members of Congress.
As a Nothing But Nets Champion and member of the Advocacy Committee, I would encourage others of all ages to join the campaign and attend the 2018 Leadership Summit.
Mohammed Khader is the Chief Strategist for the Youth Caucus of America