David Beckham 'Speaks 9 Languages' in New Film to Combat Malaria
Former footballer David Beckham is the star of a new video that appears to show him speaking nine different languages to help further the fight against malaria.
The video, created for the campaign "Malaria Must Die, So Millions Can Live", uses artificial intelligence video synthesis technology to make it seem as though Beckham is speaking in the voices of malaria survivors and campaigners from around the world.
Released on Tuesday, the video is part of the launch of the world’s first voice petition, with the campaign calling on members of the public to literally lend their voices to the global fight against malaria.
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“Malaria isn’t just any disease. It’s the deadliest disease there’s ever been,” Beckham begins in English, before moving to Spanish, Kinyarwanda, Arabic, French, Hindi, Mandarin, Kiswahili, and Yoruba.
Voices featured in the video also include those of Dr. Elvis Eze, Marie Murorunkwere, Hussein Omar, and Jean Bosco Niyonzima — all of whom have survived malaria and are now using their stories to raise awareness about its potentially devastating effects.
“My life changed when I worked at a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, and I saw the intolerable toll of malaria,” said Eze, from Nigeria, which accounts for 25% of all malaria cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Eze told Malaria Must Die. “I now work for the NHS in the UK and have seen how this is a global challenge. Through the Voice Petition, we each have a chance to inspire change wherever we are.”
Murorunkwere, whose voice is featured in the film speaking Kinyarwanda, a language spoken in Rwanda, said: “I have seen and lived with malaria my whole life. I suffered so many times as a young girl growing up in Rwanda.”
“The disease took the life of my precious younger brother when he was just two years old,” she told the campaign. “Then I lost friends to the disease when I lived in a refugee camp in Goma in the Congo. You learn to live with the loss but the memories of those I loved stay with me forever.”
Beckham, a founding member of the Malaria No More UK leadership council and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, has campaigned against the disease for over a decade.
“To be a part of this campaign and to help share some of the real stories behind malaria is really important to me,” Beckham said in a statement shared with Global Citizen.
“Dr. Elvis Eze, who was with us on set has suffered with malaria many times and as a doctor, he has seen how dangerous this disease can be,” Beckham continued. “For me, it was so important to learn how he is using his experiences to raise awareness of malaria with young people in the UK and abroad.”
He said: “It’s unacceptable that malaria still kills a child every two minutes, so please add your voice to the petition.”
The petition is all to do with putting pressure on world leaders ahead of a critical year for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria — a multilateral fund (meaning that lots of different countries contribute) that works to help save lives in nearly 140 countries.
2019 will be a very important year for the Global Fund’s continued efforts, because in October, in Lyon, France, there will be a replenishment of its funding.
Donor governments, implementing countries, and the private sector will all be making commitments to help support the Fund’s work.
“If we are going to win our fight against this devastating disease and save millions of lives, we must act now,” said Dr. Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, former assistant director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and board chairperson for RBM Partnership to End Malaria.
“This is a global fight,” she continued. “If we are going to be the generation that ends malaria we need to work together.”
And it is possible to eliminate malaria completely, with the right resources and action. Just 150 years ago, according to Malaria No More, all countries except in Antarctica had endemic malaria within their borders.
Since 2000, according to the campaign, malaria deaths globally have been reduced by more than 60% — saving almost 7 million lives, mostly those of young children.
But 60% of all international funding to the fight against malaria comes from the Global Fund, which is why October’s replenishment will be so significant.
The Malaria Must Die campaign asks people who want to contribute to the global effort against malaria to go to its website and record the message “malaria must die.”
Each voice collected via the petition will go into creating a sound sculpture that will be delivered to world leaders ahead of October’s critical funding decision.
The Malaria Must Die campaign was launched in Feb. 2018, in the run up to the London Malaria Summit, held during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April 2018.
The summit featured commitments worth over $4.1 billion to the fight against malaria — and was followed by a historic CHOGM commitment to halve malaria across the Commonwealth by 2023.