NEW YORK: British soccer legend David Beckham put his star-power to use on Wednesday in a bid to reinvigorate the fight against malaria under the slogan “Malaria must die - so millions can live”.
The retired athlete joined ranks in a campaign by Malaria No More UK, a British charity, to star in a short film in which he is caged in a glass box and swarmed by mosquitoes.
The stunt is a reference to the way malaria is transmitted through the bite of the blood-sucking insects.
“These insects are annoying in places like the UK but in many parts of the world a mosquito bite is terrifying and deadly,” Beckham said in a statement.
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Despite successes in recent years, malaria continues to kill about 445,000 people a year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“This is totally unacceptable,” said Beckham, a member of Malaria No More UK’s leadership council and a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN children’s agency UNICEF.
The former England soccer captain, who retired from the game in 2013, remains a global celebrity. During his career he played as a midfielder for top clubs including Manchester United and Real Madrid.
The “Malaria Must Die” campaign is particularly focused on pressuring leaders of countries in the Commonwealth, a 52-member grouping including Britain and most of its former colonies, to adopt policies aimed at eliminating the disease.
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The WHO last year warned that progress in the fight against malaria had stalled amid signs of flatlining funding and complacency that the disease was less of a threat.
In its most recent World Malaria Report, the WHO said malaria infected around 216 million people in 91 countries in 2016, an increase of 5 million cases over the previous year.
The vast majority of deaths were in children under the age of five in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
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