Asamoah Gyan In Malawi to Re-invigorate Advocacy on HIV Prevention

Black Stars’ Captain Asamoah Gyan is currently in Malawi to support Malawi’s invigoration of the global ‘Protect the Goal’ campaign, which was launched in Malawi at the end of 2013. The Campaign is one in a series of activities which Malawi’s National AIDS Commission (NAC), Joint United Nations Team on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and their partners are undertaking to re-invigorate HIV prevention in the country, particularly among young people. The Campaign seeks to contribute towards attainment of the three Zeros (zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths) and in particular, the drive towards Zero New Infections, through the galvanizing power of football. Asamoah Gyan arrived in Malawi on 27th August, 2014 to participate in the Campaign events from the 28th to 30th August, 2014. He is being accompanied by the Ghana Protect the Goal from Zambia. Asamoah Gyan, the Premier Celebrity of Ghana Protect the Goal Campaign is accompanied by the renowned Ghanaian jazz saxophonist and the ‘Ghana Protect the Goal Campaign Goodwill Ambassador’ Steve Bedi, his Manager Samuel Anim Addo and UNAIDS Communication Officer, Eunice Jonathan. Also representing the Government of Ghana is the Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr Angela El-Adas. The three-day visit includes various activities and events organized to highlight the importance of harnessing the power of football to raise awareness of HIV particularly amongst the youth. The event on August 28 climaxed with the Malawian President, H.E. President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika’s signing of the ‘Global Ball’, reaffirming his Pledge to HIV prevention. Fifteen other African Heads of State have so far signed the ‘Global Ball’ which has now arrived in Malawi. Other planned activities include an interactive ‘Protect the Goal’ information session with young people, media interviews, radio talk shows and a gala dinner with potential ‘Protect the Goal’ project sponsors during which Ghana’s renowned Jazz artist Steve Bedi and Malawi’s Skeffa Chimoto will team up in a musical collaboration. Gyan is also expected to attend the Standard Bank Football Cup final game at Civo National Stadium in Lilongwe on Saturday 30th August. Malawi’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is facilitating the event in partnership with the UNAIDS, NAC and the Football Association of Malawi (FAM). The main private sector sponsors are Airtel and Standard Bank. UNAIDS Ghana Country Director, Mr. Girmay Haile, said that this visit is the first of its kind among African countries as part of a broader push to re-invigorate HIV prevention. He said, “Africa still remains the epicentre of the AIDS pandemic and it requires a strengthened collaboration among nations of the continent to raise the stakes higher in the fight against AIDS”. He also pointed out that, “Ghana continues to be among the lead countries of the world in its national response to HIV and teaming up with Malawi will certainly pave the way to expand the prevention movement among the youth of the continent.” In Ghana, the ‘Protect the Goal’ campaign was launched in late 2012 through the collaboration of UNAIDS, Ghana AIDS Commission and Ghana Football Association. This partnership has now expanded to include the National Youth Authority and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts. The Captain of the Black Stars became the first National Team Captain to ever sign the pledge to support the campaign while H.E. President John Mahama became the First Head of State to do the same. The campaign is targeted at collecting 100,000 signatures from the youth of Ghana by the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but collected over 600,000 signatures of pledge. Over 130 top celebrities in the country also joined the campaign and broadened the movement by encouraging their fans and followers to pledge to protect themselves against new HIV infection by adhering to ‘safe sex practices’, using the following three simple messages: use condom, know your HIV status, and reduce sex partners. The Ghana delegation will return to Accra on a Kenya Airways flight in the evening of 31 August 2014.