KUALA LUMPUR (23 June 2014): There is no vaccine to prevent HIV and there is no cure for AIDS. However, with foresight, self-discipline and education, HIV infection and AIDS can be prevented.
This was the clear message sent out to more than 200 school children to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS under the Protect the Goal campaign held on the sidelines of the Faisal Cup football and netball tournament at SMK Raja Ali in Kuala Lumpur.
The programme was initiated by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in collaboration with the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Asian Development Bank (ADB). Protect the Goal was first launched at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa to create awareness on HIV prevention programmes globally.
The Faisal Cup football and netball tournaments held in memory of Mohd Faisal Abdul Rahman is seen an ideal platform to give an opportunity for underprivileged children to play in a safe environment, and to ensure that never again would a child lose his life over something that seems so small to us, but so important to them.
It was birthed out of a tragedy. On a sunny afternoon in April 2006, just as the excitement of the World Cup began to build, Faisal, who was 17 years of age then, drowned while trying to fetch an old ball he saw floating in the Gombak River.
He never had an opportunity to play football as his squatter home lacked a safe playing area and his unemployed parents could not afford to buy him a ball, let alone send him for training.
The Faisal Cup football and netball tournaments is seen an ideal platform to give an opportunity for underprivileged children to play in a safe environment, and to ensure that never again would a child lose his life over something that seems so small to us, but so important to them.
The Protect the Goal campaign at SMK Raja Ali was also witnessed by representatives from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNAIDS, Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC), schoolchildren and parents.
The project driven by AFC, ADB and UNAIDS will comprise of behavioural change communications with youths through mainstream and social media, using the popularity of football as a tool to deliver messages to promote health in the region, while leveraging on the support of AFC’s sponsors and member associations, as well as building partnerships with community-based and youth-led organisations .
Dato’ Windsor John, the AFC Deputy General Secretary, said: “The main objective of the programme is to educate the community on HIV transmission among young people in this region, as we are hopeful that the society can benefit a lot from such awareness campaign,”
“We acknowledge and recognise the stature of the Faisal Cup which reaches out to the younger members of our society. Every child should be given an opportunity for education and also play in a safer environment,” he added.
MAC Executive Director, Roswati Ghani, also echoed the sentiments and expressed the importance of educating the society on this disease through fun activities as being the best strategy in tackling the issue.
“It is highly imperative for all Malaysians, especially youths to not only be aware of HIV and AIDS, but to be educated on its preventive measures in order to successfully combat the disease in the long run. We had a booth set-up at the recent Faisal Cup and were delighted to have engaged with both participants and spectators,” she said.
Globally, an estimated 5.4 million adolescents and young people are living with HIV, and 1.8 million are eligible for HIV treatment. Millions of young people living with HIV do not know they are living with the virus, and every day, approximately 2,100 adolescents and young people become newly-infected, which accounts for 36 per cent of all new HIV infections globally.
ABOUT ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION (AFC)
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the governing body of Asian football and one of the six Confederations making up FIFA. The AFC is responsible for the administration of football in Asia. Among its various responsibilities are: regulating the game, drafting new laws to improve the sport, implementing the law, boosting grassroots and youth football, and conducting major competitions.
ABOUT JOINT UNITED NATIONS PROGRAMME ON HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organisations – UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank – and works closely with global and national partners to maximise results for the AIDS response.
ABOUT ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (ADB)
Based in Manila, Asian Development Bank (ADB) is owned by 67 members, including 48 from the region. Its main instruments for helping its developing member countries are policy dialogue, loans, equity investments, guarantees, grants, and technical assistance.
ADB’s vision is an Asia and Pacific region free of poverty. Its mission is to help its developing member countries reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of their people. ADB is committed to reducing poverty through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.
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