Malaria charities use World Cup to highlight disease

Malaria charities are targeting the World Cup as a means of highlighting a disease that still claims a child's life every 30 seconds on the African continent.

When England took on the United States on the second day of the tournament last night, the United Against Malaria project kick-started its own campaign to raise awareness in the hope of providing 150 million more mosquito nets by the end of the year.

A raft of top-class international footballers, including Kolo Toure of the Ivory Coast, have suffered from malaria and campaigners are using the month-long jamboree to focus attention on the impact of an illness that still has devastating consequences among Third World populations.

United against Malaria, an umbrella organization of partnerships seeking an end to malaria deaths, is now active in 11 endemic African countries where 91 percent of fatalities occur. Yet even in places where nets are easily accessible, usage can be as low as 50 cent due to lack of education. Campaigners hope that will change after the World Cup, with football providing an unparalled platform for awareness, especially in remote villages in some of the poorest African countries.

"What is so powerful about the World Cup is the sheer size of the global audience and the way in which football resonates across the whole continent," says Sarah Kline, executive director of the charity Malaria No More UK, one of the main global partners of United against Malaria. "The objective is to maximize exposure to a mass audience and to influence governments to prioritise spending on malaria, not least African countries."

Football's world governing body, Fifa, has made great play of the fact that the World Cup is not just about South Africa but Africa as a whole. Kline believes the continent's obsession with football is too good an opportunity to miss in terms of widening the debate.

"Loads of government officials in Africa – health and sport – are interested in football and that helps engage the political leadership. In Ghana, for instance, the national team are talking to people about the importance of protecting themselves against malaria. Using populist messages is the perfect way to get to a broad audience."

Hence the reason why players like Toure – a household name through African football as well as the Premier League – are so important to the cause. Toure has contracted malaria on a number of occasions, even as a professional footballer. He has recovered each time but acknowledges others aren't so lucky.

"It's more serious among children," says Toure, who cost £12m when he moved from Arsenal to Manchester City and will play a key role for the Ivory Coast at the World Cup. "I have known several families back home who have suffered terribly. More children die in Africa as a result of malaria than any other disease. The scale of the problem is huge. In the 90 minutes it takes me to play a football match, 180 children die from malaria."

Whilst the death rate is declining in 38 countries, only eight of those are in Africa. Hence the involvement with UAM with a raft of commercial organisations, big and small, who have discovered the impact of malaria on their profits; from SSB Flour Mills in Tanzania – who found that some 20 percent of staff miss at least a day a month due to malaria – up to Standard Bank who found that in countries where malaria was prevalent, it was costing the company $6m (£4.1m) per year in lost work days alone.

It's no surprise, therefore, that UAM is backed by a number of corporate bodies including the Gates Foundation. But right now the focus is very much on football. Fifa are understood to have endorsed a number of as yet unannounced activities around the World Cup final next month in order to raise awareness. By the time one of the 32 nations taking part in South Africa lifts sport's most coveted trophy on 11 July, Kline hopes the message will have got across. And the message is three-fold: behaviour change, increased government support and, ultimately, more mosquito bed nets with a view to eradicating deaths by 2015.

"Many countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia have made considerable progress," says Kline. "But other countries are less enthusiastic and there are still huge challenges in terms of both money and trained health workers. In the West people think malaria is something we have got rid of. There is also an assumption that there is easy access to medicine. Both these are wrong."

Estimates suggest that 350 million nets would be needed to achieve universal usage. "Right now, the shortfall is around 150 million," says Kline. "A mosquito net costs just £5 including both purchase price and transporation. Children under five and pregnant women are most at risk. The goal is that by the end of this year everyone susceptible to malaria will have access to a net."

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
news
Environment
Fungi pose the biggest threat globally and in the UK, where they threaten the country’s wheat and potato harvests
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

KS2 Teacher Plymouth

£21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

MI Analyst-Reporting-Bank-Edinburgh-£260/day

£230 - £260 per day + competitive: Orgtel: MI Analyst-Reporting-Bank-Edinburgh...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone