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Aardman teams up with Bill & Melinda Gates foundation for film demanding action on malaria

Animation studio Aardman has teamed up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the global campaign, ‘Malaria Must Die So Millions Can Live' to raise awareness of the deadly history of malaria and call upon leaders to “unite and fight” the disease that takes the life of a child every two minutes.

Launching on Commonwealth Day the new animation, voiced by actor Hugh Laurie, takes viewers through the history of the disease from the first recorded case in Ancient China – 4,718 years ago – to current day. This short film by Aardman also highlights the huge progress that’s been made in the fight against malaria, while reminding us that half the world’s population are still at risk. The disease claims 445,000 lives a year – a child every two minutes – and over half of these deaths occur in Commonwealth countries.

The animation is part of the continued campaign call for leaders meeting at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London in April to take concerted action. Commonwealth populations are disproportionately affected by the disease and leaders are being urged to make new commitments to beating it at CHOGM.

Laurie said: “This wonderful animation by Aardman tells the story of malaria, our oldest and deadliest enemy – an enemy we’re now in a position to defeat, once and for all.

“I am proud to be part of this campaign calling for bold, political action to fight the disease, because it remains one of the biggest killers of children and yet is entirely preventable, and costs less than a cup of tea to treat. We can all make tea, can’t we? I hope everyone who watches this film shares it and supports the Malaria Must Die campaign, so that millions can live.”

The animation will be shown today during a Commonwealth Day (March 12) reception at the Houses of Parliament where secretary of state for international development, Penny Mordaunt MP, will speak about the UK’s support for the malaria fight which has played a pivotal role in the progress of recent years saving over seven million lives, cutting deaths by over 60%.

“We know malaria still causes one out of ten child deaths in Africa and costs its economies billions every year. We also know progress on reducing malaria cases has stalled, which is why it is so important it is discussed at this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The UK is a leader in the fight against malaria and has been for many years. We are the second largest international funder in the world and invest in treatment, prevention and research, including fighting against the threat of drug resistance,” said Mourdant.

“This fantastic animation will not only show the huge amount of progress made on reducing malaria, but will also raise awareness of the work still to be done to protect those at risk.”

This new animation is the latest in the campaign, which also included a short film featuring David Beckham locked inside a giant glass box with nothing but a swarm of mosquitoes for company. Beckham can be seen eyeing up his hungry roommates as the insects’ buzzing and numbers grow steadily. At the end the box is revealed to be mercifully mosquito free.

Danny Capozzi, animation director at Aardman added: “Storytelling through animation can be a powerful tool in helping people to understand complex or difficult subjects and we felt it was important to take a sensitive approach to recounting the history of malaria. We hope that our film achieves this by communicating a difficult message in an accessible way for the Malaria Must Die campaign and helps in the fight against this terrible disease.

“Being a film about the history of Malaria, we wanted it to have a vintage 8mm projector feel but with a unique graphic style that would capture the audience’s attention."

James Whiting, executive director of Malaria No More UK, said: “Malaria has an ancient and deadly history: from infecting the dinosaurs to playing a part in the fall of the Roman Empire. Despite best efforts to end malaria and huge progress in recent years, it still kills nearly half a million people every year.

"And we at a risk of losing some of the hard won progress due to plateauing funding, growing resistance and declining political will. We know how to better treat, test and track the disease and we must act now to get back on track to end this deadly killer.”

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