Friday, December 16 201

On December 17 2016 the Afrivac Foundation will host a historic Gala Football Match at the Léopold Sédar Senghor Stadium in Dakar, Senegal featuring famous footballers Diego Maradona, El Hadj Diouf, Nikolas Anelka and Didier Drogba. Through this high profile match, these football greats hope to focus attention on the importance of universal access to vaccination.

In partnership with the Africa United campaign, Special Olympics athletes will participate in a unified opening match, featuring players with and without intellectual disabilities, which will showcase how inclusive partnerships can further access (even by marginalized populations) across the continent. Special Olympics athletes will also escort the celebrity players onto the field while Special Olympics majorettes perform and cheer on the players on the sidelines.

This match represents another coming together of partners from all sectors to throw their support behind universal immunization. Thanks to partner support, including Lions Club International and the Lions Clubs International youth network-Leos, the game represents a key moment to spotlight the importance of youth leadership and service in volunteers' communities. Ensuring that children grow up healthy is not just the responsibility of a single leader or organization – it requires the commitment from people from all levels of society. Government leaders, ministers, healthcare workers, mothers and fathers all play a part to ensure all children receive routine immunization.

The celebrity footballers who will be in attendance each recognize the importance of getting every child vaccinated. One in five African children do no receive all basic vaccinations, leaving them vulnerable to numerous vaccine-preventable diseases. Without proper healthcare and routine vaccination, these famous players may not have grown up to be star athletes they are today.

El Hadj Diouf said: “Everyone has a role to play in ensuring our children are protected. Play your part by taking your family to your local healthcare center to update your vaccination status. It’s a simple way to protect our children.”

It’s been shown that vaccines are the most cost-effective investment in health and development. Vaccinations are a gateway to health. Together we can make #EveryShotCount.

ENDS.

About Africa United: Africa United is a platform led by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the African Union, Gavi, Speak Up Africa, Kyne, the World Bank Group and the CDC Foundation, that includes African leaders, international health bodies, private companies, celebrities, NGOs and other multi-sector actors.