London — David Beckham Wednesday launched an ambitious new global malaria campaign, Malaria Must Die, So Millions Can Live calling upon leaders to "unite and fight" malaria.
The campaign's first focus is on leaders at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London in 70 days' time.
The ground-breaking film, made by Ridley Scott Associates working with digital ad agency R/GA and Director Baillie Walsh, alongside input from Richard Curtis, features David in a glass box "under attack" by a swarm of mosquitoes.
This dramatic film makes the point that, like David, those of us living in malaria-free countries are fortunate to be protected from the deadly disease, but half of the world's populations are still at risk.
Malaria tragically claims 445,000 lives a year and over half of these deaths occur in Commonwealth countries. Each death is needless as malaria is totally preventable and costs less than a cup of tea to treat.
David Beckham, a founding member of Malaria No More UK Leadership Council says,
"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.
As the mosquito film shows, these insects are annoying in places likes 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 Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, Chair of the Board of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria said, "Limiting malaria's devastating impact on families, communities and countries has been one of the global health success stories of our time.
Thanks to significant investment, strong political leadership and new tools, we have saved millions of lives from this deadly disease. And today, we have an opportunity to save millions more by renewing our resolve and commitment, as a global community, to end malaria for good."
James Whiting, Executive Director of Malaria No More UK (the NGO convening the campaign on behalf of the global malaria community) said, "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 at this, the most crucial of junctures - especially with the knockout blow in sight."
The malaria fight is far from won - The World Health Organisation's (WHO) annual World Malaria Report came out at the end of 2017 with a stark wake-up call showing progress to save lives slowing for the first time in many years.
Dr Pedro L. Alonso, Director of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Malaria Programme said, "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."
The Malaria Must Die campaign aims to break new ground politically and invites the public to share and declare their support