By Andy Murray
“There’s no tournament on earth like Wimbledon and, after winning here three years ago, I’m looking forward to returning with the home advantage and the incredible support of my fans, and giving it my best shot.
This year I’m proud to be wearing Malaria No More UK’s logo on my sleeve. I’ve supported the charity’s work to end malaria deaths for seven years now. Two things compelled me to get involved: firstly the devastating impact of malaria on children. This disease claims a young life every two minutes, yet it is preventable and it costs less than a pack of tennis balls to treat and help save a life. As a new dad this really hits home. You can’t help but imagine how different things would be if you lived in parts of Africa where malaria is the number one killer of young children in your community. It’s unthinkable, yet every day more than 800 children lose their lives because of a mosquito bite. In this day and age, this should not be happening.
I was also attracted to the malaria campaign because of its single-minded focus, raw ambition and drive to achieve the goal to end malaria deaths in our lifetime. These are qualities that I admire and identify with. With the malaria fight – and from my personal experience – resolute commitment and persistence deliver results.
For malaria, there’s been record progress to save lives, with child deaths slashed by more than half, saving more than 6 million lives between 2000 and 2015. That’s more than the entire population of Scotland! This progress is thanks to increased financial commitments and global efforts, supported by UK leadership and the leadership of other countries, which have allowed more prevention (including mosquito nets) and better diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
I was really interested to hear in April the World Health Organisation announce that the European Region hit its 2015 target to wipe out malaria. It’s hard to picture malaria across Europe, but only a hundred years ago you were at risk of catching the disease in nearly every country in the world, so this is huge progress. It gives me hope for the future – we really can be the generation to make malaria no more.
This September will be a big milestone for the progress to continue as countries will make their pledges to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the world’s biggest funder of programmes to fight and end these three preventable killers. With renewed commitment and enough funding, 8 million more lives could be saved by 2020. I hope all countries will show continued boldness and leadership with strong pledges to save lives.
In the fight against malaria, when funding has been reduced or stopped many countries have seen the disease return with a vengeance. We cannot afford to stand still or let any ground slip when so many lives and futures are at stake.
Ending malaria is an incredible and achievable goal that we can all get behind – join me and support the fight to end malaria so that one day in our lifetime no parent anywhere will lose their son or daughter to a preventable disease like malaria.