Nigerian-American Track Star Seun Adigun, Joins Fight against Malaria

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Seun Adigun

Mary Nnah

As the World Malaria Day was marked globally yesterday, Nigerian-American Bobsledder, Track Star and founder of the first-ever Nigerian bobsled team, Seun Adigun, along with leading athletes from Africa and beyond, joined youth champions behind the “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign to inspire awareness and action.

To keep the malaria fight alive in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, this new team of global influencers in the likes of Seun Adigun, Kenyan world-record-holding marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge, World Cup-winning South African rugby captain Siya Kolisi, top female South African explorer Saray Khumalo, veteran international footballer Luis Figo, amongst others, are urging people to ‘see the bigger picture’ by tackling COVID-19 and malaria together to save more lives.

To shine a spotlight on the vital importance of sustaining malaria efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bigger Picture campaign, launched on Thursday, features the stars film themselves wearing a face mask whilst talking about the vital importance of tackling malaria and saving more lives during the pandemic, creating a striking image of both COVID-19 and malaria together – a visual representation of seeing the Bigger Picture.

Speaking during an event to commemorate the World Malaria Day, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, said malaria does not stop devastating lives during health emergencies and still kills a child every two minutes, adding, “Indeed, experiences from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa show it can resurge in times of crisis with immediate and deadly consequences. COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in health systems around the world and, with lives at risk and resources increasingly stretched; long-term malaria investment alongside short-term COVID-19 response is essential, smart, and cost-effective.”

To shine a spotlight on the vital importance of sustaining malaria efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bigger Picture campaign, launched yesterday, featured Eliud Kipchoge, Siya Kolisi, Saray Khumalo, Luis Figo, and Seun Adigun.

The stars filmed themselves wearing a face mask whilst talking about the vital importance of tackling malaria and saving more lives during the pandemic, creating a striking image of COVID-19  and malaria together – a visual representation of seeing the Bigger Picture.

Malaria is one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases, transmitted by mosquitoes, which still kills an average of over 400,000 people annually – over 90 per cent of them in Africa. An estimated 228 million long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) were due to be delivered across Sub-Saharan Africa this year – more than ever before – but severe disruptions to life-saving net campaigns and limited access to antimalarial medicines as a result of COVID-19 could potentially result in a doubling of the number of malaria deaths in the region compared to 2018, according to recent modelling analyses by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Imperial College, London.

Also launching the week of World Mosquito Day, is the Zero Malaria’s #MosquitoClapChallenge which comprise a series of short videos featuring influencers as well as malaria youth champions from across Africa illustrating the importance of continuing to fight the world’s oldest and deadliest disease despite the challenges of COVID-19.

When mosquitos get in people’s faces, it is usually accompanied by a swat or a clap to shoo them away or to catch them. Zero Malaria have teamed up with international Afropop dancer and choreographer Ezinne Asinugo to turn this clap into an easy 5-step routine for anyone anywhere to share across social media platforms, including Instagram and TikTok.

The resulting film of collated entries from around the world will be released in lead up to the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, running from 15-30 September 2020, to encourage world leaders and key players to sustain their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic in the fight to end malaria.

Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign was launched by African Union leaders in 2018 in support of the continent’s goal to end malaria by 2030. The campaign sparks grassroots movement by engaging political leaders at all levels, mobilising resources and funding, and empowering communities to take ownership of malaria efforts and hold leaders accountable in the fight against malaria.

The RBM Partnership to End Malaria is the largest global platform for coordinated action against malaria. Originally established as Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership in 1998, it mobilises for action and resources and forges consensus among partners. The Partnership is comprised of more than 500 partners, including UN agencies, malaria endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, non-governmental and community-based organisations, foundations, and research and academic institutions.