Client: World Health Organisation
Campaign: Roll Back Malaria
PRTeam: Janice Muir Partnership
Timescale: January - April 2000
Budget: pounds 10,500
More than 300 million people contract malaria each year with 90 per cent
of deaths occurring in Africa. The annual death toll is over a million,
the majority of fatalities occurring among pregnant women and
In 1998 the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a strategy called
Roll Back Malaria, which aims to half the number of deaths in ten
On April 25 2000 African heads of government met at a summit in Nigeria
to formulate a plan to control the disease. Janice Muir Partnership was
brought in to promote awareness in the run up to the summit.
To communicate the extent of the damage wreaked by malaria to an
influential domestic audience, including politicians and government
leaders, the medical profession and potential corporate donors. To
influence African leaders to commit their governments to participate in
Roll Back Malaria; the UK government to continue its support for the
scheme; and the private sector to invest in malaria prevention and
control in Africa.
Strategy and Plan
WHO wanted to use the UK media’s international influence to kick-off
worldwide coverage through international broadcasters and UK news
Janice Muir conducted research into malaria with which to brief the
media, and as a result journalists were alerted to the likelihood of a
malaria outbreak in Mozambique due to flooding. They were also told
about measures being taken to prevent an epidemic. In March, reporters
were put in touch with WHO staff stationed there. The BBC ran a live
interview with a senior WHO official warning of a malaria outbreak and
drawing attention to Roll Back Malaria and the forthcoming summit.
WHO launched a new report, by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard
University, at the summit which claimed that Africa’s GDP would be one
third higher if malaria had been eliminated 35 years ago.
Broadsheet newspapers, medical, scientific, business and international
affairs journals as well as international broadcasters were
A series of media briefings on the report’s findings were held two weeks
before the summit and WHO’s second-in-command, Dr David Nabarro, met
journalists in London.
Senior health, scientific and foreign affairs journalists were
approached with material for feature packages, including information on
people and doctors involved with malaria patients, and mosquito-net
Journalists were invited to the summit and key participants were lined
up to give live radio interviews with the BBC before, during and after
the event. Selected journalists were given the opportunity to visit
nearby villages where they could film and interview malaria patients and
Measurement and Evaluation
Janice Muir conducted its own media analysis.
Politicians in the UK were made aware of the plight of countries with
high numbers of malaria sufferers through UK national broadsheets,
foreign affairs radio and journals such as the Economist and the British
Medical Journal. Likewise medical professionals and potential corporate
sponsors were informed via their respective journals, which are
published and read internationally. African politicians were targeted
with coverage across the BBC World Service and World TV, and specialist
titles. Additionally, representatives of the WHO in Nigeria kept logs of
all coverage and presented these to politicians at the summit. It is
estimated that the campaign reached a total worldwide audience of more
than 300 million. Various African publications plan to publish articles
over the course of this year.
More than 50 African heads of state attended the Nigeria summit which
concluded with the leaders signing a declaration that commits them to
halving the number of malaria sufferers in Africa by 2010.
New investment from the public and private sector is yet to be
confirmed, however, the economic arguments for investing in malaria
prevention and treatment have received widespread media exposure.