By World Healthcare Journal-
Adding to his many talents, footballer David Beckham appears to be fluent in several languages as he launched a voice campaign to end malaria. A new film using AI technology enables David to speak nine languages, calling on people to support a campaign to attract the attention of world leaders ahead of critical funding decisions for the Global Fund in six months’ time.
The voices are actually those of malaria survivors and physicians fighting the disease, including Dr Elvis Eze whose voice features speaking the Nigerian language Yoruba. In the film by acclaimed moviemakers Ridley Scott Associates, the other languages spoken are Spanish, Kinyarwanda, Arabic, French, Hindi, Mandarin and Kiswahili. These languages represent the countries affected by malaria, past or present; from the UK, which was historically affected by malaria, to China, a country on the brink of elimination, to Nigeria, where the malaria toll is the heaviest with close to 300 lives lost every day, mainly young children.
“My life changed when I worked at a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria and I saw the intolerable toll of malaria. It doesn’t have to be this way,”
says Dr Eze. “I now work for the NHS in the UK and have seen how this is a global challenge. Through the Voice Petition, we each have a chance to inspire change wherever we are”.
David Beckham is a founding member of Malaria No More UK Leadership Council and has personally seen the impact of malaria though his long-term role as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in countries such as Sierra Leone.
“Dr Elvis Eze has suffered with malaria many times and as a doctor, he has seen how dangerous this disease can be. For me, it was so important to learn how he is using his experiences to raise awareness of malaria with young people in the UK and abroad,” says David who is committed to reinforcing the message to world leaders.
History shows that ending malaria is achievable with the right resources and action. 150 years ago, all countries except Antarctica had endemic malaria within their borders. Since then half of these have now successfully eliminated malaria, most recently Paraguay and Uzbekistan who were certified malaria free in 2018. Since 2000 a combination of powerful new tools, increased investment and strengthened international political commitment including from the UK, has cut malaria deaths globally by more than 60%, saving almost 7m lives, mainly young children.
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London in April 2018 the Malaria Summit featured commitments worth over$4.1bn to fight malaria and was followed by a historic CHOGM commitment to halve malaria across the Commonwealth by 2023.
But drastic action still needs to be taken to fight the disease that can ruin so many lives, including that of Marie Murorunkwere whose voice features in the film speaking Kinyarwanda. She herself suffered malaria as a child in Rwanda and lost her two year old brother to the disease, and then lost friends when she lived at a refugee camp in Goma in the Congo. “You learn to live with the loss but the memories of those I loved stay with me forever,” she says.
The campaign is supported by the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who attended the Malaria Summit in London last year. “I welcome the next phase of this campaign, and the innovative approach to inspire support. In Ghana, innovation underpins our strategy, which includes being one of the three countries piloting the new malaria vaccine this year,” he says.
The Global Fund provides almost 60% of all international financing for malaria and a successful replenishment for the Global Fund will be essential to future progress against this disease, including efforts to halve malaria across the Commonwealth by 2023.
“2019 is a critical year for malaria. If we are going to win our fight against this devastating disease and save millions of lives, we must act now,”
says Dr Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, Board Chairperson, RBM Partnership to End Malaria and Former Assistant Director General, World Health Organisation. “This is a global fight. If we are going to be the generation that ends malaria we need to work together. ”
Feature Image: Dr Elvis Eze (left), David Beckham (right) at the recording of the Malaria Must Die campaign