A conference on a campaign aimed at ensuring a universal access to mosquito nets and malaria drugs in Africa was held Thursday in Paris, France, witnessed by Cameroonian football icon Roger Milla.
“By acting now, we can achieve unprecedented coverage of mosquito nets in Africa by 2010 and save millions of lives between now and the 2014 World Cup,” said Djiba Kane Diallo, project coordinator for the NGO VOICES in Mali.
The campaign’s initiators, including football teams, international footballers and celebrities, said the staging of the first World Cup ever in Africa this year was a major opportunity to carry awareness and prevention messages in the continent, the most hit by the malaria scourge.
“Malaria kills about 2,500 people a day, which means 180 avoidable deaths every football match (90 minutes). I am proud that the World Cup is (to be) held for the first time on the African soil and can be used to revers e the course of this deadly disease. I am strongly committed to fighting against malaria”, said Milla, who is personally involved in the campaign.
Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Uganda and their respective football associations are already supporting the initiative.
The campaign is also aimed at encouraging commitment from decision makers in endemic countries.
So far, about 30 African professional footballers have recorded a television spot in English and French, as well as in several African languages, to raise awareness among Africans on the proper use of mosquito nets and to raise public and private funding against malaria.
Africa accounts for 90 per cent of malaria cases and children in particular are affected by the disease.