Reaching the Last Mile and Speak Up Africa’s youth leadership initiative is a powerful platform that seeks to harness the leadership potential of the youth to spearhead efforts to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) on the continent. 

If Africa is to make significant progress towards achieving the goals of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2030 roadmap on NTDs, leveraging the energy, innovative thinking, resourcefulness and connectedness of its growing young populace is paramount. The youth have a vital role to play in driving awareness and mobilizing positive change worldwide. 

The youth leadership initiative seeks to develop a network of youth-led organizations committed to ending NTDs within their communities and countries through national-level advocacy, action and leadership engagement. The initiative will provide US $250 000 in grants and capacity strengthening to at least ten organizations within Senegal and Niger over 15 months. In addition to funding, program participants will have access to mentorship and resources to support their efforts to engage effectively in decision and policymaking spaces that affect their health. The support network will also unify and amplify the voices of youth-led organizations and their leaders, enabling them to connect with like-minded peers, share knowledge and solutions and bring learnings back to their communities.


To learn more about the Reaching the Last Mile initiative,
visit their website 

As a women-led organization, gender equality is in our DNA. Unless women and girls – in all their diversity – can meaningfully hold leadership positions, making decisions and allocating resources, our continent will never fully thrive. We support the inclusion of women and girls on public platforms and as leaders. We encourage them to significantly participate in decision-making spaces. We support our own team, and the civil society organizations we work with, to better understand the role gender plays in everything we do, and to ensure all our interventions take gender into account.

Women and girls’ participation is the key to unlocking our continent’s future. It drives everything we do. Our work in this space has included driving conversations around gender equality across the continent; engaging community and religious leaders in campaigns to break taboos around menstrual hygiene; hosting the Ouagadougou Partnership, an organization committed to doubling the number of modern contraceptives users by 2030; creating a campaign to elevate women and girls’ voices in decision-making for health, and more.

Everyone deserves access to safe sanitation and clean drinking water. We, closely with sub-national, national and regional institutions that are directly responsible for sanitation, are urging country leaders to invest in better access to safely managed sanitation services and clean drinking water. We help governments to develop adequate policies and regulations, and are working with institutions such as the African Ministers’ Council on Water and the African Water Association to develop regional guidelines and policies that prioritize sanitation.

We are also working to gather enough credible advocacy partners to push the envelope — to bring discussions of inclusive sanitation into the public discourse. This ties closely with our work on gender equality, including efforts to improve access to menstrual hygiene products and to ensure women and girls have a voice in health decision-making. We have worked with governments to reduce the cost of treating human waste; led campaigns to increase awareness of the importance of equitable sanitation in West Africa; and run a continent-wide media fellowship to increase in-depth, quality coverage of sanitation.

Our work on malaria is grounded in national malaria control strategies. They are the starting point to everything we do. From there, we help governments and their partners refine strategies to reduce the burden of malaria in their country and allocate the money needed to turn these strategies into action. We help ensure that leaders remain accountable, step up their commitments and work to close the US$3.8 billion global malaria funding gap. We also design and lead advocacy movements to engage communities and the media to participate in malaria control and elimination. We aim to build sustained leadership and domestic financing to galvanize action across African society to prevent, control and ultimately eliminate malaria. 

Over the years, our work has included working with governments to increase domestic financing for malaria; engaging with the private sector so they contribute to the fight against malaria; launching a citizen movement that encourages every sector of society to take an active role in the fight against malaria, and more. 

We are advising government leaders on policies that will support research to solve current and future health threats. We are also working to elevate the importance of global health research and development on political agendas, with an eye on securing sustainable, long-term financing for these efforts. To do this, we are enlisting civil society organizations to join us in advocating for more funding and research in the region. At the same time, we are working with trusted African scientists to enhance their advocacy and communication capacities so they can better share reliable information with African populations. 

We are committed to ensuring that the region’s research agenda is driven by local priorities. Over the years, we have provided a platform for trusted African science leaders and health experts to share reliable information about COVID-19 with African populations. We have provided awards to young African entrepreneurs with innovative projects in the health sector, driven the regional harmonization of the pharmaceutical sector in the region, and more. 

Fore Word

Africa produces about 2% of the world research output, yet the region accounts for 15% of the global population and 25% of the global disease burden. The African region only accounts for 1.1% of global investments in R&D in 2016 and countries’ commitment to allocate 1% of their GDP to R&D remains unmet. R&D in Africa is mainly funded by the public sector, with significant proportions of financing in many countries coming from international funding.

Speak Up Africa’s main objective is to spark collaboration around the need for advocacy for increased investment and advancing policies to accelerate the R&D of new health technologies that address critical health challenges, such as HIV/AIDs, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal and child health, and other neglected diseases.Working with our partners, we advocate for commitments on innovation, GH R&D funding and regulatory harmonization of the health research and development agenda in Francophone Africa by:

Francophone West Africa Digital Health Network

Mr Jean Philbert Nsengimana

« The time for Digital Health has arrived. We are called to use technology. A lot more. With digitalized health systems we can save time and speed up research as exemplified by the worldwide record breaking creation and procurement of COVID 19 vaccines. There are highly sophisticated digital systems that could contribute to the fight against malaria. As such, the creation of a formal and structured multisectoral regional network [ReSAF] whisking together the threads of a community of practitioners and experts building and learning from common experiences challenges and resources would definitely contribute a holistic coordinated effort across health sector for disease control and prevention. »

Mr Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Chief Digital Advisor,
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)

ReSAF Coordination Unit

ReSAF Strategic Documents

Situational Analysis
Gap ID & Network Strategy
Network Launch
ReSAF Membership Registration
Network Charter
Network engagement Strategy
Case Study : Senegal path towards Universal Health Coverage to digital systems
Donors and Development Partners Policy Brief Digital
National Government Policy Brief-Digital
Health Data Governance Principles

Medias and Press

Network Launch Link
Network engagement Strategy Link
Digital Health in Africa


Revolutionizing Sub-Saharan Africa data collection
Collection systems, archiving and statistics in Africa
implementation Framework of the Global Digital Health Strategy in the WHO African Region
Le Tech Observateur website
Kangame consulting website
Digital Health Policy Note
Digital Health Blue Note

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The Women Innovators Incubator is an initiative led by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa to bridge the gap in women-led innovation in Africa and address the additional barriers they face in taking their business ideas from concept to implementation. Specifically, the programme aims to develop the scientific innovation and entrepreneurial capabilities of the beneficiaries so that they can take their innovations to the next level. The women who participate in the initiative are one step closer to creating a scalable and sustainable business to address some of the most pressing healthcare challenges in Africa.

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award, launched in December 2020, received over 300 applications, however, only 21% of the applications were from women. The Women Innovators Incubator was therefore created to address the significant gender imbalances in access to finance, training and skills development, professional networks and overall participation in competitive environments.

Three winners have been selected to receive:
The winners of the first edition of the Women Innovators Incubator are:
Angella Kyomugisha

Co-CEO, Kaaro Health, Uganda

Angella Kyomugisha is a 29-year-old Ugandan, Co-CEO & Chief Financial Officer of Kaaro Health Uganda Limited.

She is a formal Medical Doctor. Kaaro Health uses simple mobile technologies to bring affordable, high-quality healthcare to every village in Africa. They deploy telehealth-enabled container clinics in villages that otherwise have no clinic within a 25-kilometer radius. Their work ensures that people have access to qualified healthcare professionals as well as critical equipment.

Nuriat Nambogo

Team Lead, MobiCare, Uganda

Nuriat Nambogo is a 35-year-old Ugandan and the Team leader for MobiCare.

Nuriat oversees the entire development and implementation of the project. MobiCare is a smartphone mobile based application that helps to link patients to health workers and enables convenient appointment scheduling. Health workers licensed to practice and attached to private health facilities are voluntarily requested to register with MobiCare.

Marie Chantal Umunyana

Founder and Managing Director, Umubyeyi, Rwanda

Marie Chantal Umunyana, is a 26-year-old medical student, Founder and Managing Director at Umubyeyi.

Umubyeyi intends to provide evidence-based information on maternal & child wellbeing and parenting. It is a digital health initiative for youth, young couples, pregnant women, and young mothers. It aims to make health information accessible by applying a comprehensive approach in improving maternal and child wellbeing using technology tools.

Gender equality is a fundamental human right and is vital for a prosperous world, a thriving Africa.

Women representing half of the world population, it is more than necessary to empower them to actively engage in all areas of society.

Gender equality supports all the essential foundations for a healthy economy and prosperous nations and is vital to the collective success of Africa against the sustainable development goals.

Currently, it is expected that gender gaps will take over 120 years to close in Sub-Saharan Africa, and over 135 years for pay and leadership equity to be reached. Historically women have been excluded from decision making spaces and programs that affect their health and well-being. Voice, participation, and leadership are vital for the empowerment of women.

Achieving gender equality is beneficial for everyone, giving each person equal opportunities at work and in the public sphere. It is about reaching better education and health outcomes, lower mortality rates and a higher per capita income.

The African LeadHERs initiative was launched on the occasion of the Generation Equality Forum which took place from 30 June to 2 July, organized by UN Women and co-chaired by the governments of France and Mexico in partnership with civil society and youth. The aim of the event was to make concrete commitments to gender equality, following the previous ones made in Beijing in 1995.

African LeadHERs started off with a radio show called « Youth – the floor is yours », organized on 30 June 2021 with the National Youth Alliance for Reproductive Health (ANJSR) on the theme of « Bodily autonomy and rights in reproductive and sexual health ». The show was dedicated to giving a voice to women who are committed and active in this field and to discussing concrete solutions so that women in Africa can make their own decisions about their health.

Following this, in collaboration with the Senegalese fashion brand Tongoro, a fashion show was held on 5 July, bringing together leaders from the world of culture and art, to inspire and engage women.

African LeadHERs supports the inclusion of women and girls on public platforms and in leadership and aims to encourage women’s and girls, in all their diversity, to significantly participate in decision-making spaces for improved public health.

Gender Equality is paramount to achieving every one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals and at Speak Up Africa, we are committed to transforming this belief into meaningful action and engagement.

Through the African LeadHERs program, we partner with leaders from all sectors of society, including sports, fashion, culture and art to creatively work together to build a stronger, fairer and more inclusive world.

Logo Voix EssentiELLEs


Voice, decision-making and leadership are vital factors for the empowerment of women. These factors ensure that women can express their preferences, demands, views and interests, and that they can gain access to decision-making positions. Only when women and girls are empowered and supported to actively participate in decision-making processes can effective policies, based on their concrete experiences, which take into account gender differences and cultural sensitivities, be developed and implemented.

Voix EssentiELLES aims to strengthen women and girls, in all of their diversity, by meaningfully engaging them in decision-making processes and spaces that influence health policies and programmes.

Managed by the Dakar-based policy and advocacy tank Speak Up Africa, and strategically supported and co-funded by Fondation CHANEL and The Global Fund, Voix EssentiELLES was launched in July 2021 to support the efforts of various women-led community-based organisations with a fund and capacity-building programme, through the University of ExcELLEnce, in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.

24 civil society and community-based organisations were chosen from across these three countries. Particular attention has been paid to the issues of gender-based violence, reproductive health and the fight against tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Organisations taking part in the initiative

In Burkina Faso
In Côte d’Ivoire
In Senegal

Voix EssentiELLES Advisory Committee

Made up of experts, this committee was established in September 2021 to guide Speak Up Africa in the implementation of the Voix EssentiELLES initiative, including the development and implementation of engagement strategies and a capacity building programme.

Members of the committee in Senegal:
Members of the committee in Côte d’Ivoire:
Members of the committee in Burkina Faso:


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Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and malaria disproportionately affect the poorest members of society and are a major obstacle to Africa’s economic and social development.

These diseases have begun to receive increased attention from the international community, with a number of international declarations and commitments being signed around the world, with leaders pledging to prioritize the control and elimination of these diseases. Thanks to the commitments made by President Paul Kagame and the heads of government of many countries, the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in June 2021 provides an opportunity to garner global attention and accelerate action to end these preventable and treatable diseases. It is also important community engagement from the onset ensures acceptance of communication messages and implementation of local NTD and malaria initiatives.

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