Hello, I’m Thomas Locke and this is Five Minutes, the podcast that brings you closer to the malaria experts.
This morning, on Tuesday 9th April, Malaria No More launched an online petition, with David Beckham as its figurehead. He featured in a film, speaking nine different languages. It was made with Artificial Intelligence.
But this petition is not asking for signatures or email addresses, it wants your voice. Well, to learn more, I’m joined by Dr Elvis Eze, who is part of the campaign.
Elvis, thanks for joining me.
Thank you, Thomas.
You’re a Malaria No More Youth Ambassador. What does that involve?
Being a Malaria No More Youth Ambassador is really about spreading the word about this deadly disease and sharing my personal story and also sharing the knowledge I have as a medical doctor.
Talk to me about your personal story then because you’re originally from Nigeria?
Yes, I am. I think, before moving out of Nigeria, I’ve always thought of my personal story as a common story because malaria is very common in sub-Saharan Africa. I grew up knowing malaria as an everyday sickness that takes the next person away from family or a friend, a family member, a partner or a co-worker. For me, I had malaria and I heard a lot of people having malaria multiple times growing up. I saw people passing on from having malaria. I went to school and I heard that a colleague has gone, not really knowing that there is a preventable aspect to it and this was me being in the early stages of school.
You’re using your voice in an incredibly powerful way. You helped launch the World Malaria Report in the UK House of Lords, you joined Bill Gates for a panel at the #ProgressIsPossible event in London earlier this year. And now you’re launching a new campaign with Malaria No More anymore more called ‘Speak Up’. Could you tell me more about that?
I’m really privileged to be on this campaign because it’s a world first and it’s a petition to spread the word about ending malaria. And for me, it’s a pit stop in the journey, knowing that this year there’s a lot of fundraising around, trying to continue the fight against the disease. We know we’ve got The Global Fund replenishment cycle coming on and I just feel like this there is no better time to have this.
We’re recording this interview before the campaign has actually gone live. By the time this interview goes out to the world, the campaign will be live. But, tell me more about Artificial Intelligence and tell me more about David Beckham?
It’s been a long time coming and a lot of people are putting a lot of work in trying to make this happen. I remember being in the studio having to repeat educational materials about malaria in a local Nigerian language, Yoruba. I grew up in Lagos, so I’ve always spoken Yoruba with friends. Speaking that in my language brought a new sense of purpose to me, knowing when the video goes out, you will be hearing David and seeing David speaking Yoruba. It’s so powerful because, in Nigeria, people follow football, lots and lots of people follow football. Everyone knows David Beckham because he has a huge following from the English Premier League. So, David Beckham speaking in their local language will touch a different part of them.
I guess it moves on to the question as to who this campaign is for. Who were you hoping to sign the campaign and what is it campaigning for?
I think the campaign would be for everyone. Starting from the people on the ground, the people most affected by malaria and people are living in endemic countries. If you see a powerful personality, a role model, like David Beckham, speaking to you about malaria, I think it gets to you, it feels like he knows what we’re talking about, if you can relate. Then we go onto the leaders, when they see someone who is also a role model to the people, who has achieved so much personally and professionally, they listen, they feel like it’s more important and I think that’s one powerful use of this.
It’s a voice petition, isn’t it? You’re not asking for signatures or for people to give their email address. How can people get involved?
It’s really, really straightforward. Get onto the website MalariaMustDie, you just follow a link to record your voice. Lending your voice makes it different. It’s one of those things that’s not been done before so being on this one would be really great for everyone.