Social media envoys to post and tweet for malaria control, UN official says

15 March 2010

The United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria is today launching a new group of high-profile Internet users to inspire and involve social media audiences in the effort to combat the disease.

The UN Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray Chambers, says the group's members will utilize their social profile to focus online and offline media audiences on the movement, milestones and resources required to achieve the Secretary-General’s goal of providing all endemic African countries with malaria control interventions by the end of 2010.

“In our efforts to reach the Secretary-General’s 2010 goal of universal bed net coverage, and to reach the longer term goal of near-zero deaths from malaria by 2015, it is critical that acceleration continue in the malaria control movement,” said Mr. Chambers ahead of today’s launch.

“Social media content and user-driven syndication have proven to be exceptional media assets in generating action behind, elevating awareness of, and increasing resources for global malaria efforts. With our malaria-related objectives within sight, this influential group of Social Media Envoys will help us exceed our awareness goals throughout the year,” the Special Envoy added.

About 3.3 billion people – half of the world's population – are at risk of malaria, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Every year, this leads to about 250 million malaria cases and nearly one million deaths.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicentre of the world’s malaria control activities, with at least 90 per cent of malaria deaths occurring on the continent.

More than 190 million long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets have been delivered since 2007, covering nearly 400 million people or more than 50 per cent of the endemic population, compared to less than 10 per cent in 2005.

The Social Media Envoys for Malaria include CNN host Larry King; actress Alyssa Milano; co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington; the co-founder of Twitter Biz Stone and Randi Zuckerberg, the Director of Marketing at Facebook.

The Social Media Envoys will take one social action, such as a tweet on Twitter or a post on Facebook, in support of malaria eradication efforts each month for 12 months starting on World Malaria Day on 25 April.

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