Football stars David Beckham and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are among those fronting a new campaign calling on world leaders to commit to ending malaria.
As part of Zero Malaria’s Draw The Line campaign, the famous faces have joined forces with young people and scientists requesting leaders to take action and invest in eradicating the deadly disease.
They feature in a campaign video from Grammy-winning filmmaker Meji Alabi, with Laolu Senbanjo, who worked on Beyonce’s Lemonade visual album, as art director.
Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, Nigerian singer Yemi Alade, South African TV presenter Bonang Matheba and Kenyan Olympic running champion Faith Kipyegon are also part of the new short film.
The fast-paced video sees the stars running, dancing and playing football alongside young people as a voiceover says: “Malaria, we’re coming for you.”
Former England football captain Beckham holds a clipboard as he works alongside others in white scientists’ coats, adding: “You’ve met your match.”
The campaign video will be showcased at the Africa Day Concert on May 28 in Johannesburg, ahead of the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases being held at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda on June 23.
The campaign group has said the summit will be a “milestone moment in the malaria fight” as they discuss the commitment to halve malaria across the Commonwealth by 2023 and accelerate global efforts to cut malaria by 90% by 2030.
Beckham said: “I have supported the fight against malaria for many years and am proud to be a part of this amazing campaign, alongside many inspiring artists, athletes and champions from across Africa.
“This is a year of big opportunity and there is a way of curing this disease.
“World leaders have the power and responsibility to make change and create a safer, healthier, fairer world for all.”
Barcelona FC striker Aubameyang said he was “proud” to be a voice for the campaign, recalling his experience with the disease.
He said: “I caught malaria in 2021 when playing for the national team in Gabon, where 100% of the population is at risk from malaria.
“It was a tough time, I was lucky to be able to get to a doctor in time to make a full recovery, but so many people don’t have access to essential medical care, especially children.
“As a dad I find it totally unacceptable that malaria takes the life of a child every minute when it can be prevented, treated and cured.”
The Draw The Line Against Malaria campaign is also putting pressure on world leaders to invest funds of 18 billion dollars (£14.3 billion) as part of the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment plan in its fight against HIV, TB and malaria.
Gareth Jenkins, director of advocacy for Malaria No More UK, said the UK should be “proud” of its role in tackling malaria, with British scientists having helped invent treatments, vaccines and prevention methods that have reduced the scale of the disease in recent years.
However, he added that the “fight” against malaria was at a “crossroads” and called on Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to lead the way.
Mr Jenkins said: “With Covid having increased deaths, world leaders must decide in the coming months if they will give the Global Fund To Fight Aids, TB and Malaria the resources it needs for essential, life-saving programmes.
“If they don’t, we will see more deaths that could have been prevented, and weaker frontline health systems that will be less able to withstand not just these three existing scourges, but also future pandemics that could hurt us once again on our shores.
“The world needs British leadership on malaria – Liz Truss should recognise her historic role in helping set the world back on the path to eradication, to the benefit of us all.”