A new short film features 21st-century celebrities alongside 20th-century icons who have changed history — all in the name of combatting malaria.
Hugh Laurie, Emeli Sandé, Peter Capaldi, Noma Dumezweni, and Ncuti Gatwa all star in the film, alongside Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Malaria still threatens 219 million people every year, but your voice is more powerful. It’s time to speak up and make a change. Sign the voice petition to end #malaria for good https://t.co/O9KlrTD7dB#MalariaMustDiepic.twitter.com/AbjcXKqWt9— Malaria Must Die (@malariamustdie) June 27, 2019
The video has been created by the Malaria Must Die, So Millions Can Live campaign, and it highlights the power of individual voices to shape the future.
In this case, it’s to shape a future without malaria.
The campaign is calling on members of the public to join the fight by getting involved in the world’s first voice petition to end malaria.
The individual voices collected as part of the petition will be crafted into a sound sculpture to share with world leaders ahead of the Global Fund’s three-year replenishment meeting on Oct. 10 in Lyon, France.
The Global Fund is a nonprofit that leads the international fight against malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS, and the replenishment in October is a critical time for making sure that its work is properly financed.
It aims to raise at least $14 billion for the Global Fund, which provides 60% of all international financing to support efforts in preventing, diagnosing, and treating malaria.
Each of the famous faces featured in the Malaria Must Die short film has their own personal connection to malaria, with some having witnessed its devastation first-hand.
“When I was younger, during the summers, my mum, my siblings, and I would go to visit my father who lived and worked in Cameroon,” says Sex Education actor Gatwa. “One summer, my sister caught malaria.
“At first we mistakenly believed it to be flu, which in retrospect is a scary thought,” he added. “Thankfully she received treatment and got better however, unbelievably, malaria still claims the life of a child every two minutes.”
Dumezweni, who played Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, added: “I spent my childhood living and travelling through malaria-affected countries eSwatini, Botswana, Kenya, and Uganda.”
“I am inspired to hear that deaths have since been significantly reduced in most of these countries,” she continues. “With your voice, we can be the generation to end malaria forever.”
And for Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi, a 2015 trip to Malawi was a “life changer.”
“I spent time in an overcrowded hospital where almost all the children had malaria,” he said. “I’ll never forget reading the hospital’s ‘death book’ — malaria claimed life after life. Real kids, no longer with us because they lacked basics to prevent and treat this curable disease.”
He added that “it’s vital” the Global Fund is fully funded this year, in order to stop more entirely preventable deaths.
The Malaria Must Die campaign was launched by David Beckham in April, and it’s designed to amplify the voices of those affected by malaria and give people around the world the chance to speak out against it.
“Millions of lives hang in the balance, dependent on the replenishment of this crucial fund, which is also critical to delivering the historic commitment made in 2018 to halve malaria in the Commonwealth by 2023,” said James Whiting, CEO of Malaria No More UK, the charity spearheading the Malaria Must Die campaign.
“Halving malaria over the next five years is a vital step towards reaching the 2030 Global Goals — helping to unleash the massive potential of individuals, communities, and countries affected by the disease,” he added.
The world has already made great progress against malaria.
Since 2000, malaria deaths globally have been cut by more than 60% — saving almost 7 million lives, mainly children.
Meanwhile, global efforts have also prevented 1.3 billion cases from developing, according to Malaria No More UK.
And just last month, Algeria and Argentina became officially recognised as being malaria-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO). That means that they proved they had interrupted indigenous transmission of the disease for at least three years running.
But progress has stalled and the disease isn’t gone yet.
Malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers, with many countries “seeing increasing numbers of cases,” according to Whiting.
He warned: “History has shown us that malaria will return with a vengeance if efforts are not kept up. The crucial decisions made now by political leaders — backed by strong public support — will determine the future trajectory of this disease.”