‘I almost missed my exams’
Growing up with the threat of malaria made Annette a passionate advocate for ending it. Now as a medical student and a Malaria Youth Army champion she’s determined to help Kenya reach Zero Malaria.
“My motivation to join the fight against malaria is based on personal experience,” says Annette Adhiambo, a 26-year-old medical student and a member of the Malaria Youth Army in Kenya. “I come from Siaya county, a malaria-endemic zone, and I have personally suffered from malaria.”
Living with the disease took its toll on Annette’s health and her education. Her bouts of malaria meant multiple hospital admissions and many days of school lost. “At one point I almost missed my exams.”
Discovering some of the shocking statistics surrounding malaria further drove Annette’s passion to end it. “1 in every 3 pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa suffers from malaria. I felt like as a woman, I should put my best foot forward and join the fight against malaria.”
Besides facing increased danger of malaria during pregnancy, women also make up the backbone of the frontline fighting the disease. It’s estimated that around 70% of community health workers globally are women. Increasing funding to fight malaria would mean better supporting these workers whose efforts are heavily relied on by under-funded health systems.
"I felt like as a woman, I should put my best foot forward and join the fight against malaria."
Annette is now in her sixth year as a medical student at Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. As a youth army champion, she also advocates to improve community awareness of malaria prevention and treatment. In particular, she speaks with pregnant women to support them to access tools that can keep them safe from malaria, from medication to mosquito nets.
To Annette, a world without malaria is a world with increased prosperity and opportunity. “Ending malaria will lead to economic growth in the country, meaning that we’ll have resources – resources that were previously channelled towards malaria – available to support other programs.”
Annette believes in the power of young people to create change – both by urging leaders and changemakers from all sectors to do more to end malaria, and through the power of their own ideas. “Over past years, we’ve been able to see that young people are innovative and they’ll be able to come up with new ways of preventing malaria, as well as treatment, which is critical.”
Ending malaria means a stronger, more equitable world for everyone. Join the Zero Malaria Starts With Me movement.