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."

Sport
File photo of Lewis Hamilton celebrating becoming World Champion after victory in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he was made favourite to become the first motor racing winner of Sports Personality of the Year since Damon Hill
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
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

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible