Kenyan Olympic champions Eliud Kipchoge and Faith Kipyegon have joined a stellar cast of global celebrities in a campaign that seeks to mount pressure on world leaders to improve efforts in combating malaria.
The campaign, Draw the Line Against Malaria, is part of the Zero Malaria Starts With Me (ZMSWM) movement that engages political leaders, and mobilises funds and resources to enhance efforts against malaria across the African continent.
It has the backing of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria—the global platform for coordinated action against the disease—and the African Union Commission, and aims at ridding Africa of Malaria by 2030.
Kipchoge and Kipyegon along with other global personalities, scientists, and activists, will appear in the campaign film set to be released on May 28 at the MTV Africa Day concert.
Other stars on the cast include retired English footballer David Beckham, FC Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nigerian Afro-pop singer Yemi Alade, and South African TV presenter Bonang Matheba.
As Zero Malaria Ambassadors, Kipchoge and Kipyegon will spearhead discussions on combating malaria in Kenya and across the globe, and participate in mobilising funds to end malaria-related deaths.
“In the past, suffering from malaria has stopped me from running. Today, over 1,000 children in Africa will die from the disease. Malaria is stealing their futures. But this is a human problem that we can solve because despite the challenges no human is limited,” said Kipchoge.
“We are calling on leaders to recommit to ending malaria at the Kigali Summit and later this year at the Global Fund Replenishment conference by contributing at least $18 billion to achieve zero malaria within a generation.”
Kipyegon said, “I’m proud to join this incredible campaign because I want to see an end to malaria, a disease of deep injustice particularly as it affects the world’s poorest people, especially for women and girls.”
“This gives me great hope – I want my daughter to grow up and see the day when we have zero malaria in Kenya,” she added.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, has hailed the initiative, saying it is instrumental in the global fight against malaria. In 2020, the disease caused about 627,000 deaths, 95 percent of which are reported in Africa.
“Draw The Line provides a platform for Africa’s most powerful narrators to change this trajectory, disrupt political apathy, and lead the fight to end this treatable and preventable disease which kills a child nearly every minute,” Dr Tedros said.
As the campaign now ventures into a global rally to raise funds for fighting malaria, Dr Corine Karema, the Interim Chief Executive of RBM Partnership to End Malaria, emphasised the importance of the funds in the journey towards zero malaria.
“This year, it is vital that we see a fully replenished Global Fund to get back on track and accelerate the malaria response to end this disease and strengthen health systems, creating a safer, healthier and more equal world for all,” she said.
RBM Partnership to End Malaria estimates that investing $18 billion in the anti-malaria fight, through the Global Fund, will reduce malaria-related deaths by at least 62 percent by 2026. - VINCENT OWINO, The EastAfrican