| AFRICAN OLYMPIC ATHLETES
SUPPORT ROLL BACK MALARIA
Tanzanian Olympic team captains Restituta Joseph and
Fokasi Wilbroad Fullah are the first athletes to sign-up to an Africa-wide campaign to
raise awareness about malaria. Restituta survived several childhood bouts of malaria.
African Olympic athletes are being encouraged to
pledge their support for the global Roll Back Malaria (RBM) movement in a campaign that
highlights how best to treat and prevent the disease. Many of the medal hopefuls,
like Restituta, have been ill with malaria in the past.
In addition to the Tanzanian captains, almost the
entire Ugandan team has also agreed to sign up to RBM and lend their voice to the
The latest RBM ambassadors are currently in the
final stages of training for the Sydney Olympics which start on 15 September. All Olympic
committees throughout Africa have been approached to be involved in the campaign.
RBM project manager a.i., Dr Awash Teklehaimanot,
said: "The Olympics present the opportunity for one of the year's biggest global
media audiences. National heroes and heroines are created and the power of their opinions
should not be underestimated.
"Encouraging words from famous athletes have
the power to convince hundreds of thousands of the benefits of mosquito nets and prompt
treatment for malaria illness."
"Many African athletes have had their own
battles with malaria. We hope they will help us in our work to encourage a broader
understanding of the disease so that people in Africa are better equipped to fight
"With its goal to halve the malaria burden in
Africa by 2010, Roll Back Malaria knows all about difficult challenges. We offer our best
wishes to the African athletes in their own personal challenges in Sydney."
In the last Olympics in Atlanta Africa had its best
games to date, winning a total of 34 medals. Kenya won eight medals, Nigeria won six,
South Africa five, Algeria and Ethiopia both won three medals, Namibia and Morocco both
won two and Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique, Tunisia and Uganda won a medal each.
The Tanzanian team has just left for Sydney
following training at Moshi in the Kilimanjaro region of northern Tanzania with former
5,000m Olympic gold medallist Suleiman Nyambui.
The athletes have signed up to give out the
following messages for RBM:
- More than 500 million people a year become ill from malaria
- More than one million people, mainly children, die from malaria
- Malaria prevents people from earning a living, going to school (or
taking part in other important activities.)
- Malaria mainly affects poor people but in areas where malaria is
endemic it is a disease that strikes all people regardless of lifestyle
- Malaria can be prevented e.g. by using insecticide treated
mosquito nets in the home
- Malaria can be treated early diagnosis and correct therapy are
- The RBM movement will halve malaria deaths by the year 2010
- Individuals can join the RBM movement through the website or by
letter or fax to the World Health Organization.
More athletes from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana
and Senegal are expected to sign up to the RBM campaign in the coming weeks.
Malaria has a dramatic impact on the wellbeing of
Africa's people and on Africa's economic growth. This year a commitment by
African heads of state to halve the malaria mortality of Africa's people by 2010 has
set the scene for a massive effort to reduce the impact of the disease. They have resolved
that at least 60% of the people suffering from malaria should benefit from prompt access
to curative treatment within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. 60% of those at risk from
malaria should benefit from preventive measures such as insecticide-treated mosquito
netting. 60% of pregnant women at risk of malaria should have access to anti-malaria care,
especially during their pregnancies.
The Roll Back Malaria network responds to the needs of all people
throughout the world who are affected by malaria and is backed by national governments,
together with research universities, development organizations, UN-system agencies,
nongovernmental organizations, private entities and committed individuals. They work
together in a unique global partnership.
For further information: On athletes participation in the campaign: Edwina
Schrade, Kim Hudson or Carrie-Ann Hulme at Arcay Corporate Communications in South Africa:
Tel (+27 11) 480 8575; On Roll Back Malaria: Andy Seale, Public Information
Officer, World Health Organization, Geneva, Tel (+41 22) 791 3670; email: email@example.com. All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and
Notes for the Press can be found on http://www.who.int/inf.
More information on Roll Back Malaria can be found on the RBM website: www.rbm.who.int