Africa Cup of Nations: Where Football Meets Malaria Prevention

Malaria UAM football
Didier Drogba, UAM Champion and captain of the Côte d'Ivoire National Football Team.

From January 19 to February 10, all of Africa will be abuzz as 16 national teams compete for the Africa Cup of Nations, the continent’s biggest prize in football. But if United Against Malaria (UAM) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have their way, the exciting matches won’t be all that football fans will be discussing. UAM and CAF hope that malaria prevention and treatment will receive equal billing over the next three weeks.

Founded in advance of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, United Against Malaria is an alliance of football teams, celebrities, health and advocacy organizations, governments and corporations who have joined together in the fight against malaria. As part of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, UAM is made up of over 200 partners across sectors and continents who invest their experience, time, funds, skills and enthusiasm because they share a common goal—to end malaria, which accounts for 174 million cases and 600,000 deaths in Africa every year. With programs in several priority countries, the Voices for a Malaria-Free Future project represents JHU∙CCP as a key partner.

To ensure that malaria shares headlines with football, UAM has planned an ambitious campaign that it will roll out during the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Via pan-African television and radio spots, millions of viewers and listeners will learn about anti-malarial nets, diagnostics and treatment. These spots feature internationally recognized African football stars players, including Didier Drogba (Cote d’Ivoire), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon) and Chris Katongo (Zambia). (Visit the United Against Malaria page on YouTube to view these and other spots.) More than 75 billboards in 13 countries will reinforce the malaria prevention messages.

For travelers to the games, UAM has prepared a special video that will be aired by South Africa Airways and Mango Airlines. And on the web, UAM has launched a Facebook competition to increase awareness of the campaign’s goals.

To help place malaria front and center at the games, UAM presented at the official tournament press briefing Friday, addressing reporters from major news outlets and supplying information that journalists can integrate into their coverage. On Saturday, CAF officially introduced UAM as a selected social cause of the tournament, airing a three-minute video about the campaign and officially launching the 30-second UAM television spot featuring Drogba.

During each AFCON game, UAM and CAF have planned the following activities:

  • A 2.5-minute video broadcast in stadium, providing an overview of the campaign and its role during the tournament, as well as a 90-second halftime video featuring football stars Drogba or Eto’o
  • UAM branding on the sidelines
  • UAM branding on the uniforms of all 704 player escorts
  • In-stadium distribution of UAM’s signature magazine, GOAL!, which features a combination of tournament information, malaria prevention and treatment messages, and advocacy messages
  • UAM and malaria press materials for journalists and officials
  • CAF distribution of UAM bracelets, which raise money for insecticide-treated nets in malaria-endemic regions of Africa, to a select number of VIPs
  • CAF dissemination of UAM messaging to all 16 qualifying teams
  • UAM branding and messaging for sports commentators during television broadcasts.

A UAM cocktail reception and dinner will honor high-level champions of the campaign on February 9. The following day, UAM will participate in the AFCON closing ceremony.

Beyond South Africa, a number of activities will take place during the three-week tournament, from an SMS campaign in DR Congo to a UAM celebration for new private sector partners in Cote d’Ivoire.

For the most up-to-date information about UAM, please visit the UAM Facebook page.

Read a recent blog post by Didier Drogba, UAM Champion and captain of the Côte d’Ivoire National Football Team, about why he joined the UAM campaign.

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