I’ve supported the malaria campaign for five years now since the launch of Malaria No More UK in 2009. It is an inspiring cause that grabbed my attention not least because although malaria is one of the world’s oldest diseases, it’s also one we have the power to end –  a winnable battle. I was impressed by the scale of ambition and the single-minded focus to be the generation to stop children dying from malaria.  

Being a part of the malaria campaign also gives me a great deal of perspective day to day: It costs much less  less than a pack of tennis balls to save the life of a child from malaria, yet a boy or girl still dies every single minute. We have the power to change this.

The day of the charity’s launch remains etched in my memory. I met David Beckham who was also coming on board as a Malaria No More UK Leadership Council member. We shot a short film at Wembley Stadium, playing tennis over the world’s longest tennis net made out of a mosquito net. The film did a great job of  raising awareness about the power of nets as simple solutions to save lives. We went on to No.10 Downing Street to meet then Prime Minister Gordon Brown and a mosquito net was hung over the front door as a symbol of UK action to save lives from malaria.

I remember thinking this was an extraordinary campaign. I’ve followed the malaria fight pretty closely since then and remain proud to be involved. Just think, if 1,300 children were losing their lives every day in the UK from a disease that’s easy to prevent and cure, there would be uproar.

As someone who lives by results, I’ve been encouraged to see the progress that’s been achieved in a relatively short space of time. The result that really stands out for me is the dramatic reduction in deaths from malaria amongst young children in Africa – which have been more than halved since 2000. This is an outstanding result. It also goes to show that our goal is achievable, but like anything that is monumentally worthwhile, it’s going to take hard graft, commitment and sustained shared effort.

Global Fund
I’ve also been impressed by the scale of UK leadership in the malaria campaign as part of the global effort. The UK Government is aiming to help halve deaths from malaria in at least 10 of the worst affected countries by 2015.  A key part of this has been stepping up UK support to save lives through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  I believe the UK’s support for fighting all three of these diseases is the right thing, but also a smart thing to do. Malaria, AIDS and TB have a devastating impact especially in Africa, keeping families trapped in poverty, too ill to work or learn and unable to plan for their future. As these diseases loosen their grip on the lives of men, women and children across Africa, people, businesses and economies will be healthier, stronger and have a fighting chance to succeed.

I’ve been encouraged to see the progress that has been achieved.

Like any big result however, success can be fragile. Malaria is a disease that can resurge hard and fast, especially if levels of financial and political will are not sustained. I hope people across the country will join me in supporting our opportunity to end deaths from malaria.  

There are loads of easy ways to get involved, from donating to Malaria No More UK to help save lives (just £5 is enough to buy, deliver and hang a mosquito net, protecting two people in Africa) to spreading the word on social media that this is one killer disease we have the we power to beat. I’m netting my Facebook cover photo today as a sign of my ongoing support and to help create a buzz. Together, our voices are heard and I truly hope that in years to come we can look back and know that we were the generation that helped to end deaths from malaria.