Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Brazzaville (Republic of Congo), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Lusaka (Zambia), New York, NY (USA) – 30th March 2021— In order to combat the spread of misinformation and to mitigate the deadly spread of COVID-19, the One by One: Target Covid-19 Campaign, alongside the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, the African Union, and The Rockefeller Foundation today launched ‘AfricaCovidChampions.’
AfricaCovidChampions is a new initiative that includes some of the most prominent African celebrities, media personalities, journalists, and influencers from the sports, entertainment, business, cultural and faith communities. The prominent figures include Heritier Wanabe (Musician), Simon Mwewa Lane (TV Show Host), Joseph Kusaga (Media Owner), Jeff Koinange (Journalist/Talk Show Host), and Gift Ali (Ugandan Football player / Sports Personality). These influencers have committed to serving as powerful public health advocates and will help reach people with the essential information needed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We thank the powerful AfricaCovidChampions who are lending their voices to our critical public health efforts. Through AfricaCovidChampions, we plan to reach millions of people with messages delivered by trusted community, faith, and cultural leaders. When people hear common-sense advice from the celebrities they see every day, and from trusted faith leaders, they will take appropriate action to prevent Covid-19,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC.
The AfricaCovidChampions kicked off with a virtual influencer workshop which was designed to offer all influencers the tools needed to be effective Covid-19 ambassadors. The workshop included hundreds of influencers from across the continent, including artists, media personalities, and business leaders.
The workshop – through which more than 400 multi-sector influencers were mobilized to join the fight against Covid-19 – kicked off with remarks from Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, and H.E. Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Former President of Tanzania. Additionally, technical insights into best viral protection practices and vaccine rollout were provided via the expertise of Dr. Ahmed E. Ogwell, OUMA, Deputy Director at Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Richard Mihigo, Program Area Manager, Immunization and Vaccine Development Programme Coordinator, WHO Regional Office for Africa.
The workshop succeeded in its dual mission to:
- Galvanize an elite cadre of influential and prominent celebrities to become AfricaCovidChampions to help combat Covid-19, and
- Equip and empower these champions with the accurate Covid-19 information they’ll need to help save lives.
At the end of the workshop, all champions will a technical toolkit to help them reach out to their target audiences.
“This initiative is predicted to have lasting impact, not only for stopping the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa but by forming an influential communication pipeline to impact ongoing health engagement across the continent. The AfricaCovidChampions commitment to stopping the spread of misinformation, particularly as vaccine roll-out begins, marks a significant milestone in the African response to Covid-19,” said Dr. Mihigo of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office in Africa.
Today at the influencer workshop, Dr. Moeti announced the launch of the ‘WHO Viral Facts Africa’ which will disseminate verified health information and facts about protecting individuals and communities from Covid-19, as well as scientifically-proven facts about Covid-19 vaccines.
As Dr. Moeti told the virtual audience, “We’re not just facing a pandemic; We’re facing an infodemic.” She continued to explain: “Viral health misinformation costs lives. False claims spread online and offline spread faster than the coronavirus, itself….Together, we can stop viral rumors by sharing Viral Facts.”
The timing of AfricaCovidChampions campaign is critical as 90 million doses of vaccines are arriving in the coming weeks, according to Dr. Mihigo.
Simultaneously, the Siya Kolisi Foundation and Roche launched a children’s book that will help parents and caregivers explain Covid-19 to children by sharing scientific facts in age-appropriate language. The book is available for free download on both the Kolisi Foundation’s and Roche’s websites and digital channels, and a limited number of free printed copies will be distributed throughout Africa in seven languages. The Kolisi Foundation was founded by South Africa’s 2019 World Cup-winning captain, Siya, and his wife Rachel, and seeks to support people living in under-resourced communities in South Africa. Together, Roche and the Kolisi Foundation aim to contribute to the AfricaCovidChampions campaign efforts to spread reliable information about Covid-19.
The launch of AfricaCovidChampions is made possible by the generous support of The Rockefeller Foundation, which recently committed nearly USD $35 million to Covid-19 response efforts in Africa. “We are pleased to support the launch of AfricaCovidChampions to ensure that communities across Africa are empowered to make informed decisions to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said William Asiko, Managing Director and Head of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Regional Office.
One by One: Target Covid-19
One by One: Target Covid-19 is a pan-African, coalition-driven communications and advocacy campaign created by The Access Challenge, the African Union, and the Africa CDC. The Coalition supports the African Union in its Covid-19 response by advocating for increased financing for the Africa Covid-19 Response Fund to strengthen the Africa CDC’s capacity for securing essential diagnostics and medical supplies. The Campaign also includes various mass media campaigns to mobilize influencers from all sectors to use their viral platforms to promote increased testing, vaccine uptake, and general Covid-19 prevention measures across Africa.
The Africa CDC
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes. Learn more at http://www.africacdc.org
The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn
Partnership and Communications Associate, The Access Challenge
Raïssa Litete Beyande
Campaign and Promotion Support officer, Africa CDC
Umuliza M. Njiru
Manager of Communications, Policy, and Advocacy, The Rockefeller Foundation (Nairobi)