Kwesi Nyantakyi cemented football’s status on Thursday in Accra when he accepted the multi-coloured string of beads by wearing it with pride to show the sports commitment to the United Against Malaria – UAM campaign.
The Ghana Football Association, last year joined the global campaign, ‘United Against Malaria’, aimed at reducing the prevalence of the deadly disease and completely halting it by 2014. But the main talking point on Thursday was not about the successful partnership but the advocacy targets set out by the organizers as the Black Stars seek to continue the program through to the 2010 World Cup.
The collaboration between the FA and Ministry of Health, Malaria Control Programme and the John Hopkins University seeks to use sports, that is football, to campaign against malaria. This arrangement forms part of the millennium declaration which will use multi and inter-sectoral partnerships working together on an agreed plan to reduce death and illness due to malaria.
“About a year ago, when the voices for a Malaria-free Future project of the John Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, introduced the idea of the United Against Malaria Partnership program to me and my team at the GFA, we received it wholeheartedly. This was because, in response to an earlier FIFA directive, we had selected malaria ourselves as a disease we must help kick out of our country using the popularity and momentum of the game,” Kwesi Nyantakyi said at the UAM Africa Partners’ meeting.
According to the FA President, the move, which is forms part of sport bodies social responsibility will help prevent the loss of human resources. “For us at the GFA therefore, it is a social service obligation to be part of this campaign as we find the 3.2 million cases of malaria recorded each year in Ghana and the 20,000 children who die in a year of the disease totally unacceptable.
In fact, malaria has held back our country and our continent for far too long and we must wake up and kick it out now.” Ghana plans to reduce the prevalence of the disease by 50% this year, which will see the Black Stars continue the campaign at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
“We would be making available all our players to help in the fight against Malaria. These players, many of them icons for the public and as ambassadors of Malaria could better help to communicate the message that we all seek to send across. “Agreeably, the FIFA 2010 World Cup on the soil of Africa is an historic occasion which offers us great opportunity to up our game against malaria and do all we can to make a difference in the fight against the disease.”
By the 2014 World Cup, Ghana hopes to have completely halted the incidence of malaria, which is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Ghana. For the Ghana Football Association, the campaign would be pushed through the various leagues to help reach every hamlet in the countryside.
“We shall sustain our efforts through involving all our national teams, the national premier league, the division one and division two league clubs and even the colts’ league. This will help us carry the campaign out of the cozy scenarios into our districts and communities where the real action is required,” the FA President said.
“There’s the need for all to support the idea of buying the bracelet and wearing it with pride. By buying it, we all help to contribute money towards an anti-malaria mosquito net which would protect a life and also help to improve maternal and child health care.”
“Everyone must be worried with the startling statistics in Ghana and Africa where every 30 seconds, malaria claims a life nearly one million each year. “The Ghana Football Association is committed to all advocacy work. We will work until it’s pronounced that Ghana and Africa is Malaria-free. “This work will continue at the World Cup and every goal by the Black Stars will be victory against Malaria and a Ghana victory will also be same against disease.”
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