FIFA, Roger Milla unite to fight Malaria

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pretoria - Cameroonian football legend Roger Milla and FIFA have teamed up in a campaign to end Malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.

The campaign inspired by the first FIFA World Cup in Africa was unveiled in Johannesburg on Sunday.

The world football governing body and the star of the 1990 World Cup in Italy both committed that they were fully behind the United Against Malaria campaign, and intended to play their part in ending deaths from a disease that kills a child in Africa every 30 seconds.

Despite the heavy toll, malaria inflicts on Africa, it is totally preventable and treatable. There has been huge amount of progress in delivering long-lasting insecticide treated nets and indoor spraying, as well as new front line treatments. But ongoing efforts are required to reach the international target of reducing malaria deaths to near zero by 2015.

It is hoped that the support of both FIFA and Milla will help meet the campaign's objectives of maintaining the focus of leadership in fighting the disease and also play a crucial role in delivering messages on using mosquito nets and seeking treatment within 24 hours.

"The FIFA World Cup in South Africa is a very special occasion and we hope that by holding the tournament in Africa it will have a positive impact on the whole continent. We have asked national teams in Africa to take on a cause to support and use their profile to make a difference in their countries," said Federico Addiechi, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at FIFA.

The campaign already boasts the support of 16 national football associations in Africa, as well as top footballers such as Kolo Toure, Michael Essien of Ghana, Didier Drogba, Fredi Kanoute and Landon Donovan. "The long term support of Milla, one of the best known African footballers of all time, will help ensure malaria remains a focus for leaders across Africa," Addiechi added.

"I have suffered from malaria, my friends and family have suffered from malaria and Africa has suffered from malaria for far too long.

"This World Cup is special as the first one in Africa and by using football, the United Against Malaria campaign has built up a formidable partnership to end deaths from this terrible disease. I know I cannot make a big difference alone, and that is why I have signed up to be a member of the United Against Malaria team," he said.

Malaria is a disease caused by parasites and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. If left untreated, the infection in its most severe forms can lead to a coma and death.

Malaria is preventable and treatable, but continues to kill a child every 30 seconds and overall nearly one million people each year. Malaria contributes to the cycle of poverty and limits economic development.