April 9, 2019 1:31 pm

David Beckham appears to speak 9 languages in appeal to end malaria

WATCH: David Beckham appears in a public service announcement regarding malaria.


British soccer star David Beckham launched a global video appeal on Tuesday to end malaria in which he appeared to be speaking nine languages, including Swahili and Yoruba, aided by artificial intelligence.

In the 55-second video, Beckham fronts both male and female voices, including malaria survivors and doctors, calling on people to add their voices to an online petition to get the attention of world leaders ahead of a key conference in October.

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The charity behind the campaign, Malaria No More UK, said the filmmakers used video synthesis technology to make it look like the retired athlete was speaking in eight languages in addition to English.

“Malaria isn’t just any disease. It’s the deadliest disease there’s ever been,” Beckham said in English before switching to Spanish, Arabic, French, Hindi, Mandarin, Swahili, Kinyarwanda (which is spoken in Rwanda) and Yoruba, a West African language.

A spokeswoman from Malaria No More UK said each language represented a part of the world affected by malaria.

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Figures from the World Health Organization show malaria kills about 435,000 people a year, largely in Africa, with children under five making up 61 per cent of deaths.

In its latest World Malaria report, the WHO estimated there were 219 million cases of malaria in 2017, up from 217 million in 2016, and warned the global response had stalled despite a United Nations global goal to end the disease by 2030.

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The former Team England soccer captain, who retired from the game in 2013, has supported Malaria No More UK for over a decade and is a founding member of the group’s leadership council as well as an ambassador for the UN children’s agency UNICEF.

He called for action ahead of the Global Fund conference set to take place in Paris in October. The conference will aim to raise at least $14 billion from governments, companies and philanthropists to fight malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis.

“It’s unacceptable that malaria still kills a child every two minutes so please add your voice to the petition,” Beckham, 43, said in a statement.

© 2019 Reuters

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