Columbus Crew and Sierra Leone striker Kei Kamara, Hollywood’s actor Idris Elba, celebrities, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), international health organisations and corporations are together in the ‘Africa United’ global health communications campaign aimed at preventing the spread of Ebola in West Africa.
The Africa United campaign, which was launched on Dec. 3, is to provide critical education, resources and solidarity to those affected by Ebola in West Africa.
Their mission is to help stop the spread of Ebola and ensure access to healthcare by: driving adherence to positive behaviour change messages, dispelling rumours and misconceptions, and instilling confidence in and acknowledging the vital role of community health workers.
The message was done in French, English, Krio and other local languages.
Elba, who came to fame in TV series ‘The Wire’ and played Nelson Mandela in the biopic ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’, said the campaign has a special resonance to him.
“For me the battle against Ebola is a personal one,” said Elba, whose parents are from Sierra Leone and Ghana. “To see those amazing countries in West Africa where my father grew up and my parents married being ravaged by this disease is painful and horrific.”
In one of the campaign’s spots, Elba plays a football coach giving a halftime talk during West Africa’s ‘life or death’ match against Ebola and passing on tips on how to spot the disease and prevent new infections.
The other videos show the footballers – Yaya Toure, Carlton Cole, Kei Kamara, Patrick Vieira, Fabrice Muamba and Andros Townsend – as they pay homage to the frontline health workers operating in the area by wearing their names on the back of their shirts instead of their own.
The devastation is huge and the Ebola epidemic has caused Sierra Leone as a nation with around 17,517 affected cases in West Africa and almost 6,200 total deaths.
According to the organizers, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation, the messages will be sent out to the three countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – who are worst affected by the virus, and also their neighbours via television, radio, billboards and phone text messages.