Ahead of World Malaria Day, former football star, David Beckham, has launched the world’s first voice petition to end malaria for the campaign “Malaria Must Die, So Millions Can Live.”
Instead of collecting signatures, the campaign asks people around the world to use the power of their voice to demand action by visiting malariamustdie.com and recording the message ‘Malaria Must Die’.
In a short film, produced by Ridley Scott Associates and officially released Tuesday, Beckham appears to speak nine languages as he invites people to add their voices to help end one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases.
The former Manchester United forward begins by speaking in English before appearing to converse fluently in Spanish, Kinyarwanda, Arabic, French, Hindi, Mandarin, Kiswahili. He ends speaking Yoruba, a local Nigerian dialect.
But the voices are not all his own. Instead, using emerging AI video synthesis technology, we hear the 43-year-old speaking the voices of men and women from around the world.
Each language and voice represent a part of the world affected by malaria, both in the past and present.
The father-of-four ends the film in English, saying: “Speak up and say ‘malaria must die’. One voice can be powerful, but all of our voices together? Then they will have to listen.”
Elvis Eze, a Nigerian-born medical doctor whose voice featured in the film speaking Yoruba said, “My life changed when I worked at a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, and I saw the intolerable toll of malaria. It doesn’t have to be this way. I now work for the NHS in the UK and have seen how this is a global challenge. Through the Voice Petition, we each have a chance to inspire change wherever we are”.
The voice petition campaign is coming against the backdrop of a global rise in malaria cases for the first time in ten years, since the beginning of the campaign against the disease through the World Malaria Day celebrated every April 25 since 2008.
Half the world is still at risk from malaria, a preventable, treatable disease, which kills a child every two minutes. In 2016, over 216 million people around the world had malaria, five million more than the year before. Malaria-related death stood at 445,000, with 91 per cent of these in Africa.
Unfortunately, 15 countries carried the heaviest malaria burden in 2016, together accounting for 80 per cent of all global malaria cases and deaths.
Currently, Nigeria is the highest-burden country, accounting for 27 per cent of global malaria cases and the overall financial gap over the next three years to implement a national malaria strategy is US$ 1.4 billion.
The ‘Malaria Must Die’ campaign is designed to amplify the voices of those affected by malaria and gives everyone the opportunity to speak out.
Each voice collected via the petition will contribute to a unique piece of audio art known as a sound sculpture, grabbing the attention of leaders in a unique and memorable way.
It will be delivered to world leaders ahead of critical funding decisions for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in six months’ time.
This year’s World Malaria Day event will be held at the French capital, Paris in two weeks’ time.
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