IMPACT
06/11/2010 01:21 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Malaria No More American Idol-Style Competition Promotes Malaria Awareness In Senegal

International nonprofit Malaria No More is using music as a compelling way to raise awareness about malaria in Africa. In 2009, Senegalese artist Youssou N'Dour released 'Xeex Sibbiru,' a song that encouraged individuals to take responsibility to fight malaria. Earlier this year, the organization brought together Tanzanian pop stars for Zinduka!, a popular song and campaign that promoted the eradication of malaria in Tanzania.

This summer, Malaria No More extended N'Dour's campaign in Senegal with a nationwide singing competition, known as the Xeex Sibbiru Song Contest. The 'American Idol'-style show featured nine finalists, each singing original songs they had written about malaria. According to Newsweek, the malaria-inspired competition was intended to be a way to find a Senegalese performer that could rally the nation around the cause, as opposed to Malaria No More's health workers regurgitating the same message.

"...we didn't want to be this NGO from New York writing songs like, 'Oh, you should sleep under a net,' " says Emily Bergantino, MNM's director of communications.

The grand finale of the singing competition took place June 9 in Dakar, Senegal. The winner will record a song with Youssou N'Dour and join him as a national spokesperson against malaria. According to N'Dour, it is time for Africans to take the lead in the struggle to eliminate malaria.