Nigeria: Top players, FIFA, CAF, health experts unite in fight against Ebola

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Top international footballers have joined forces with the world football governing body, FIFA, the African football governing body, CAF, and health experts to raise global awareness and promote simple preventative measures in the fight against Ebola.

A FIFA message, released Monday and received here by PANA, said the ``11 against Ebola” campaign is featuring Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona’s Neymar Jr, Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm.

They are to promote 11 simple health messages selected with the help of doctors and health experts from Africa, the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization who are tackling the outbreak in West Africa.

Underneath the slogan ``Together, we can beat Ebola’’ and the hashtag #wecanbeatebola, players share each message with the help of animated films, radio content, banners, posters and pictures in a multimedia campaign launched Monday.

Each health message, such as ``Report unusual illnesses” and ``Cook meat properly”, has been chosen to improve public understanding about how the virus spreads, and to provide clear information that can be used to reduce the chances of the virus spreading in affected communities.

FIFA Chief Medical Officer, Prof. Jiří Dvořák, said: ``We doctors have experienced the power of football when it comes to prevention and health, while successfully implementing the ‘FIFA 11 for Health’ programme in 15 African countries as part of the medical legacy of 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

``Now we are using the same system to tackle Ebola, by presenting simple educational messages to prevent the spread of the disease through the voices of football stars – ‘When football talks, everybody listens’.’’

The popularity of football and its top players has proven to be a powerful way to connect with a wide audience and to transmit public health messages.

This is the first emergency health campaign of its kind implemented by FIFA, which has achieved positive results with previous public health awareness campaigns such as the FIFA 11 for Health, which recruited top players to promote simple health messages for children around the world.

Commenting, Neymar Jr said: ``It is so important that we get the right information to those affected by the Ebola outbreak.

``We all hope this positive campaign will improve people’s understanding of the Ebola virus and help us to reduce the chances of spreading.

``Let’s all get behind this campaign to help our brothers and sisters in the worst-hit regions. Together, we can beat Ebola.’’

FIFA President Blatter said: ``The popularity of football gives us a unique platform to reach all communities. We hope that football can play its part and that this campaign against Ebola can make a real difference on the ground as the world comes together to fight the virus and to help those living in affected communities.’’

According to the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 9, a total of 14,098 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease have been reported in six countries.

There have been 5,160 deaths. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have seen the highest number of cases.
-0- PANA TON/VAO 17Nov2014

17 november 2014 15:30:47

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