Africa Young Ambassadors Summit (AYAS): A regional summit to engage youths in tobacco control
From June 12th to 16th, 2023, the Africa Young Ambassadors Summit (AYAS) took place in Cape Town, South Africa. This summit, organized by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) in collaboration with the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA), brought together 24 young ambassadors from Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, and South Africa. It aimed to equip young individuals with a comprehensive understanding of the tobacco epidemic, enhance their advocacy skills, and foster the planning and execution of successful political campaigns in tobacco control. Additionally, it sought to create a regional cohort and integrate these young ambassadors into the global network of youth ambassadors.
Over five intense days, the young ambassadors received comprehensive training on various aspects of tobacco control. Topics covered included storytelling, tobacco industry tactics and interference in Africa, policy mapping, and communication advocacy. Participants were divided into groups and national teams to work collaboratively during workshops. They were also tasked with developing campaigns tailored to their respective contexts.
A highlight of the summit was the visit by Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo, representing South Africa. The young ambassadors had the opportunity to engage in discussions with him regarding the tobacco control legislation process in South Africa, which has been delayed. As a powerful gesture, they organized a march to the parliament to demand the adoption of comprehensive tobacco control laws in South Africa, aiming to save lives and protect young people.
The summit concluded with organizers expressing satisfaction and acknowledging the energy, leadership, and commitment demonstrated by the young ambassadors towards public health and tobacco control. In the closing session, participants presented a plan to sustain their efforts in tobacco control, with the ultimate vision of achieving a tobacco-free Africa. The plan seeks to strengthen regional collaboration, encourage exchange of experiences and best practices, and mobilize more youth in this noble cause.
The Africa Young Ambassadors Summit (AYAS) provided a transformative platform for young ambassadors dedicated to tobacco control in Africa. Through training, collaborative workshops, and meetings with government representatives, these young individuals enhanced their skills and determination to fight the tobacco industry and promote public health. Their proposed plan for the future demonstrates their commitment to continue working together towards a tobacco-free Africa.