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David Beckham demands 'bold action' to tackle malaria

The former England football captain has appeared in a new video.

Beckham: "I urge Commonwealth leaders to be ready to take bold action when they meet in London in April and to unite to stop this disease in its tracks."
Beckham: "I urge Commonwealth leaders to be ready to take bold action when they meet in London in April and to unite to stop this disease in its tracks." PA

David Beckham has called for "bold action" to tackle the threat of malaria.

Appearing in a video highlighting the threat of the disease, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player says: "We can be the generation that ends it for good, malaria must die so millions can live."

Beckham, who has just launched a new Major League Soccer team in Miami, is pictured in a glass box, surrounded by mosquitoes.

World Health Organisation (WHO) figures reveal there were 216 cases of malaria worldwide in 2016, and 445,000 deaths from the disease.

A WHO report said the fight against the disease had "stalled" in recent years, in part, due to insufficient funding. This leads to gaps in coverage of insecticide-treated nets, medicines and other life-saving tools, the report said.

The Malaria Must Die - So Millions Can Live campaign is also backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The campaign's aim is to gain fresh commitments from global health leaders to eradicate the disease.

"I've supported the malaria fight for over 15 years and it's been exciting to see the progress made to save lives, including millions of young children," said Beckham.

"As the mosquito film shows, these insects are annoying in places like the UK but in many parts of the world, a mosquito bite is terrifying and deadly, leading to malaria and the loss of a child's life every two minutes.

"This is totally unacceptable, especially when we know how to prevent and cure it.

"That's why I'm standing with the millions who live with this threat every day. I urge Commonwealth leaders to be ready to take bold action when they meet in London in April and to unite to stop this disease in its tracks."

Dr Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO's global malaria programme, added: "We are at a crossroads in the global response to malaria. WHO's recent World Malaria Report shows that progress is stalling and, without urgent action, we risk going backwards.

"Currently, about half of malaria deaths each year are in Commonwealth countries. Leaders of these countries must take action now and make a renewed commitment to putting us on the path towards a malaria-free world."

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