Blog | Malaria Meets Its Match in Music

Malaria, a potentially deadly disease, with its fevers, aches, and extreme fatigue, definitely is not cool. But a music video featuring a great dance beat and a team of top Haitian performers? Now that’s cool!

Video posted with permission, courtesy of Haiti’s Ministry of Health

At the invitation of the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic next door, The Carter Center has been helping both countries tackle malaria and another mosquito-borne disease, lymphatic filariasis, since 2008.

One of the Carter Center’s roles in the award-winning effort is community engagement, which relies on cultural understanding and respect to reach the intended audience and deliver important health-related messages, said Dr. Luccene Desir, the Center’s country representative in Haiti.

That’s where the video comes in.

“Malaria Alanba” (“Malaria Go Down”) brings together seven of the top performers in Haitian popular music — five men and two women — to increase awareness about the disease.

“There is no better way to connect with people than through popular music,” Desir said. “Experience shows that people are more likely to absorb information and change their behavior when the message is delivered in a fun and entertaining way.”

The artists performing in the video are TJo (Joseph Zenny Jr.), from Jacmel; Bélo (Jean Bélony Murat), from Croix des Bouquets; Manze (Mimerose Pierre Beaubrun), from Ouanaminthe; and Rutshelle Guillaume, Mikaben (Michael Benjamin), BIC (Roosevelt Saillant), and J Perry (Jonathan Perry), all from Port au Prince. All regularly sell out live shows and collectively have sold hundreds of thousands of recordings. The diversity of the performers’ hometowns and styles gives the video wide appeal.

In the video, four of the singers portray doctors walking the halls of a hospital in white lab coats and tunefully explaining to patients, including children, what causes malaria, how to avoid it, and how to treat it. Three others are seen interacting with people outdoors, pointing out potential mosquito breeding areas and suggesting ways to mitigate risk, including the use of bed nets and insecticide. Importantly, people learn through the video that they can receive testing and treatment for malaria for free throughout Haiti.

It’s a lot more fun than this description sounds. Check out “Malaria Alanba” above and see if you can keep still.

Artist Mikaben, who earlier in April was named Haiti’s first goodwill ambassador for health, said he agreed to participate in the video because music is a powerful force for positive change.

“It’s an honor and a joy to use my gift to help lift up my beloved people of Haiti,” he said.

The video, commissioned by the Haitian Ministry of Health and The Carter Center, is scheduled to debut this spring on TV and radio airwaves throughout Haiti.

The Carter Center is a member of Malaria Zero, an alliance of government, academic and non-governmental partners  that works with the ministries of health of Haiti and the Dominican Republic to accelerate elimination of malaria on Hispaniola, their shared island home and the last place the disease exists in the Caribbean.

Dr. Jean Frantz Lemoine, head of malaria and lymphatic filariasis elimination for Haiti’s federal Ministry of Health, said he is grateful for the musicians’ help in spreading the word.

“If music will drive malaria out of Haiti, then let’s make some music,” he said. “Soon we will all dance to a song of celebration.”

Related Resources

Read translated lyrics (PDF) »

Press Release | First Lady of Haiti Martine Moïse Commemorates World Malaria Day, Expresses Commitment to Elimination Alongside Global, Political, and Scientific Leaders (French) (Spanish) »

Learn more about the Center’s work in Hispaniola »

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