- Sports and cultural legends are coming together during AFCON in Cote D’Ivoire to increase prioritization around the issue of malaria.
- The RBM Partnership to End Malaria and Zero Malaria F.C. – an initiative co-captained by icons Luís Figo and Khalilou Fadiga – are engaging players, fans and key stakeholders to raise awareness of the disease and urge greater action.
- US and French governments are supporting the Ministry of Health of Côte d’Ivoire, in press conference with embassy representatives.
- Malaria is the leading cause of high morbidity rates in Cote D’Ivoire and still kills thousands of people globally each year.
- International artist Didi B joins the Zero Malaria F.C.
January 11, 2024 - Abidjan: As AFCON kicks off in Côte D’Ivoire, political, sporting and cultural legends are gathering to highlight the ongoing fight against malaria in the country, throughout Africa and around the world. The RBM Partnership to End Malaria and Zero Malaria F.C. – an initiative co-captained by icons Luís Figo and Khalilou Fadiga – is engaging with players, fans and key stakeholders at the upcoming major tournament, to raise awareness of the disease and urge greater action.
As 24 nations will be represented in this year’s AFCON tournament and more than 1.5 million visitors are expected to attend the competition in Côte D’Ivoire, the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene of Côte d’Ivoire and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria hosted a press conference on January 10 to raise awareness of the disease and urge greater action.
At the press conference it was exclusively announced that international artist Didi B has accepted a position on the Zero Malaria F.C team and will join the founding members in building out the initiative, bringing together sport, culture and social impact to save lives.
“Malaria does not discriminate. Malaria does not spare and malaria continues to spread. We all know that, unfortunately, Africa bears almost the entire burden of this disease on a global scale. However, despite this dark picture, we must remain hopeful and act. Because everyone, whether in this room, in front of your screens, in the stadiums and in the communities, has a role to play in putting an end to this disease,” Pierre N’Gou Dimba, Minister of Health and Public Hygiene of Côte d’Ivoire said.
Malaria is a serious health problem in Côte d’Ivoire and ranks amongst the ten countries with the highest rates of malaria cases and deaths worldwide. Despite the efforts from the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene and the National Malaria Control Program, in 2020, Côte d’Ivoire accounted for 3.1% of global cases and 2.5% of global deaths.
Globally in 2022, there were an estimated 249 million malaria cases and 608 000 malaria deaths in 85 countries. The African continent carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2022, the continent was home to 94% of malaria cases (233 million) and 95% (580 000) of malaria deaths.
At global level, the RBM Partnership is supporting endemic countries and rallying key stakeholders and donors to accelerate the efforts in the fight against malaria. By convening decision-makers, football stars and key donors, the Partnership aims to leverage on the power of collectiveness to achieve Africa and the world’s global goals.
“Malaria is a burden which weighs heavily on the continent's best players, fans and people in communities vulnerable to the disease. The fight against malaria takes place inside and outside the stadiums, and prevention is a key aspect if we are to defeat it. We need people to come together from all aspects of society - political, cultural and of course sporting as we celebrate the African Cup of Nations. It is only by working together in concerted joint action, that we can achieve our mission,” added Dr Michael Adekunle Charles, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.
“I am delighted that the RBM Partnership has such strong support in Côte D’Ivoire and I thank our international football legends, as well as our new signing Didi B who will bring this message to millions of people in the quest to eliminate Malaria. Together we can prevent thousands of cases during this competition and raise awareness for the need for action to prevent it going forward outside of the tournament.” he said.
The RBM Partnership to End Malaria is continuing to call on donor countries, leaders and policymakers to increase their support in the fight to eradicate malaria around the world in 2024 and beyond.
“Malaria is a threat to millions of people around the world, therefore, its elimination represents a global health issue that affects us all. This collective challenge must be addressed with sustainable and important solutions. This huge football competition that Ivory Coast is about to host in a few days, is a crucial event and we must know seize this opportunity to call on as much people as we can.” Added Benoît Verdeaux, First Consellor of the Ambassador to France in Côte d’Ivoire.
Zero Malaria F.C. launched on World Malaria Day last year, after Luís Figo and Khalilou Fadiga teamed up with the RBM Partnership to End Malaria to urge the international community to deliver on a malaria-free world. Football icons Jay-Jay Okocha and Kader Keita have already joined the team and on January 10th, 2024, international artist Didi B joined the F.C. to support awareness and youth engagement across Africa and the world.
Her Excellency, Jessica Davis Ba, Ambassador of the United States in Côte d’Ivoire said: “We applaud the Zero Malaria F.C. vision of bringing together globally renowned athletes to use their far-reaching platforms to increase malaria awareness and advocate for a stronger malaria response.
“AFCON presents a momentous opportunity to combine the unifying power of football with the dissemination of anti-malaria messaging and to deliver a call to action that will mobilize youth, decision makers, private sector actors and members of civil society to be ambassadors for change."
Football icons Jay-Jay Okocha and Kader Keita have already joined the team and on January 10th 2024, international artist Didi B joined the F.C. to support awareness and youth engagement across Africa and the world.
“I am delighted to join the malaria fight and support the efforts of the RBM Partnership to end malaria. It is unacceptable that this disease continues to kill a child every minute. Young people in Africa need to understand that they have a role to play in this important fight. Malaria hinders our creativity and our ability to shine and realise our dreams, and we need to eliminate it for good,” said international artist Didi B during the press conference.
Lead by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the Zero Malaria F.C. is supported by partners including Esprit d’Ébène and Speak Up Africa.