David Beckham calls for bold action to stop malaria in its tracks
Beckham is fronting a new campaign to highlight the burden of the disease.
David Beckham has challenged global health leaders to “take bold action” to tackle the threat of malaria.
The former England football captain has appeared in a new video highlighting the threat of the disease.
Beckham, who has just launched a new Major League Soccer team in Miami, is pictured in a glass box, surrounded by mosquitoes – which can carry the tropical disease.
“We can be the generation that ends it for good, malaria must die so millions can live,” he says in the clip.
Figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that in 2016 there were 216 cases of malaria worldwide and 445,000 deaths from the disease.
A recent WHO report found that progress in malaria control has “stalled”, in part, due to insufficient funding, which is leading to large gaps in coverage of insecticide-treated nets, medicines and other life-saving tools.
Beckham, 42, is fronting the Malaria Must Die – So Millions Can Live campaign, which is also backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The campaign is calling for new commitments from global health leaders – particularly those meeting at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April.
“I’ve supported the malaria fight for over 15 years and it’s been exciting to see the progress made to save lives, including millions of young children,” said Beckham, who is a founding member of the Malaria No More UK Leadership Council.
“As the mosquito film shows, these insects are annoying in places like the UK but in many parts of the world, a mosquito bite is terrifying and deadly, leading to malaria and the loss of a child’s life every two minutes.
“This is totally unacceptable, especially when we know how to prevent and cure it.
“That’s why I’m standing with the millions who live with this threat every day. I urge Commonwealth leaders to be ready to take bold action when they meet in London in April and to unite to stop this disease in its tracks.”
Dr Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s global malaria programme, added: “We are at a crossroads in the global response to malaria. WHO’s recent World Malaria Report shows that progress is stalling and, without urgent action, we risk going backwards.
“Currently, about half of malaria deaths each year are in Commonwealth countries. Leaders of these countries must take action now and make a renewed commitment to putting us on the path towards a malaria-free world.”
James Whiting, executive director of Malaria No More UK, added: “Malaria is the world’s oldest known disease and history’s deadliest killer. Efforts to fight the disease have delivered unprecedented progress in recent years.
“But, worryingly, progress has stalled and we risk undoing decades of work, which is why we are calling on Commonwealth leaders to reinforce their support to ending malaria.”