The RBM Partnership to End Malaria and Zero Malaria FC have announced plans to engage with stakeholders at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to raise awareness.
With AFCON set to kick off on 13 January in Cote D’Ivoire, sporting and cultural legends – including artist Didi B, ex Bolton Wanderers and Paris Saint-Germain football star Jay-Jay Okocha and current Cote D’Ivoire national team player Kader Keita – are set to play for Zero Malaria FC.
An initiative co-captained by footballing icons Luis Figo – who was recently announced as the newest brand ambassador for bookmaker LeBull – and Khalilou Fadiga, the campaign aims to bring together sports, culture and social impact to save lives.
The initiative is attempting to make the most of the 1.5 million visitors expected to travel to the country for the tournament as well as the millions watching at home.
At a recent press conference, Didi B explained that he was “delighted” to join the initiative. The artist said: “Young people in Africa need to understand that they have a role to play in this important fight. Malaria hinders our creativity and our ability to shine and realise our dreams, and we need to eliminate it for good.”
The RBM Partnership is supporting endemic countries and rallying key stakeholders and donors to accelerate the efforts in the fight against malaria.
The disease is a serious health problem in Côte d’Ivoire – ranking amongst the 10 countries with the highest rates of malaria cases and deaths worldwide – despite the efforts of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene and the National Malaria Control Programme.
In 2020, Côte d’Ivoire accounted for 3.1% of global malaria cases and 2.5% of global deaths caused by the disease.
Globally in 2022, there were an estimated 249 million malaria cases and 608,000 malaria deaths in 85 countries, which the African continent carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2022, the continent was home to 94% of malaria cases (233 million) and 95% of malaria deaths (580,000).
Dr Michael Adekunle Charles, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, commented: “Malaria is a burden which weighs heavily on the continent’s best players, fans and people in communities vulnerable to the disease. The fight against malaria takes place inside and outside the stadiums, and prevention is a key aspect if we are to defeat it.
“We need people to come together from all aspects of society – political, cultural and of course sporting as we celebrate the African Cup of Nations. It is only by working together in concerted joint action, that we can achieve our mission.”