By Monde Twala
Throughout history, Malaria has affected every country in the world. However, the highest prevalence of the world’s malaria cases and deaths are now occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.
As we commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day, we’re asking for collective effort around the world to #DrawTheLine Against Malaria and for this deadly disease to end within a generation. The Draw The Line Against Malaria campaign is a positive, bold, ground-breaking campaign featuring a coalition of African stars, artists and champions, designed to inspire and unite the African and global youth generation to push for intentional action to end malaria within their lifetime.
Malaria is the oldest and deadliest disease on the continent and this can no longer be ignored. Infact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that despite 90% of life-saving malaria prevention campaigns being rolled out as planned in 2020, disruption to malaria diagnosis and treatment could still pose a threat to thousands of lives across the African continent where 74% of the population is below the age of 35. Africa is indeed a young continent. Therefore, we need to bolster efforts to inspire and galvanise young people across Africa, and globally to fight against malaria.
World Malaria Day is an important initiative that requires us to reflect upon and recognise the global efforts that have saved more than 7 million lives since 2000 and supported in over 20 countries to end malaria for good.
It is unfortunate and disheartening that despite the progress made since 2000, malaria continues to claim lives and COVID-19 has exasperated this endemic disease. Therefore, it is our duty as citizens of this continent to come together to build formidable partnerships that will rival some of Africa’s biggest issues.
As a leading entertainment powerhouse with powerful platforms that reach vast African and global audiences, ViacomCBS Networks Africa (VCNA) have partnered with the Zero Malaria Starts With Me (ZMSWM) movement to engage and mobilise young people in the fight against malaria. This generation has the power to end this preventable disease. Thus, we believe that using our platforms to shine a light on this disease will indeed make a difference.
Our commitment is enforced by the desire to drive purpose that leads to social changes in our society. It is simply not enough to talk about the scourge of malaria without empowering the next generation to hold leaders accountable to end a preventable and treatable disease that currently kills a child every two minutes.
Through our network championing and pioneering powerful and engaging edutainment content across channel platforms for children and youth from MTV, MTV Base and Nickelodeon, we have the power to reach thousands of youth across the continent. By using integration of youth culture, art, trending music and youthful storytelling, we believe that we can play an important role that achieves meaningful impact in malaria-affected communities. Using a new universal language called the ‘Muundo’, the world is drawing the line against malaria. Featuring the voice of Nigerian superstar Yemi Alade, this fresh new animation explores the story behind the ‘Muundo’ and how we can all play a part in beating this preventable, treatable yet destructive disease. This animation will be shared on the VNCA youth platforms.
It’s part of our commitment to our audiences to play our part in reminding the world that we must do more to protect everyone at risk of malaria. We must protect the progress we’ve made against this disease to ensure no one is left behind. Through innovation, investment, determination and commitment, we can reach zero malaria.
Since the turn of the century, over 20 countries have achieved malaria elimination, showing us that it is indeed possible to end malaria. Now more than ever, countries are achieving and approaching elimination, with the World Health Organization set to announce a new cohort of countries with the potential to achieve zero indigenous cases of malaria by the year 2025.
Some of our African nations can form part of that list if we protect and accelerate gains against malaria. Ending endemic diseases like malaria is the pathway to beating pandemics like COVID-19. Thus, we need to continue to invest in ending malaria, which reduces the burden on health systems and increases capacity to prevent, detect and respond to other unknown pandemics.
Remember: Today’s youth are the generation that will end malaria. Let’s all get involved and be the change we want to see.
… Twala is ViacomCBS Networks Africa Senior Vice President Editorial and General Manager.