Football star and Goodwill Ambassador Against Tuberculosis Luís Figo visited Jordan with Dr Jorge Sampaio, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Stop TB, on 29 and 30 April to raise political and public awareness of tuberculosis.
Figo and Sampaio were welcomed to Jordan by His Royal Highness Prince Ali Ben Hussein, who hosted a dinner for Figo and Sampaio before they embarked on an ambitious schedule of events. Jordanian actress and national Stop TB Ambassador Rania Ismail was on hand to welcome the visiting guests, as were officials from the national tuberculosis control programme, the World Health Organization's regional office, and the Jordan Football Association.
Figo's first stop was the SOS Children’s Village in Amman, where he read aloud from the educational comic book Luís Figo and the World Tuberculosis Cup while sitting among the children, discussing the lessons of the story with them and admiring the drawings they had made to show their understanding of tuberculosis. He even found time to sign copies of the comic, along with hundreds of caps, footballs, and shirts.
He then met up with Special Envoy Sampaio for a tour of the Al Noor Sanatorium, one of the longest-established tuberculosis care facilities in the Middle East, where the visitors were welcomed with traditional music and met with patients - encouraging them to complete their treatment - before being presented with traditional robes and enjoying a Jordanian lunch in a Bedouin tent.
After lunch, Figo visited Petra stadium in Amman, which was teeming with fans eager to get a glimpse of the footballer, who met with Jordan's national football team and participated in a photo shoot with national and junior team players before watching a match between the Stop TB team and a rival team. Figo praised the players for their team spirit: "This is what we need to use in our fight against tuberculosis and beat it with wonderful team players like you all."
Other highlights of the day included an awards ceremony at a charity Stop Tuberculosis show organized by the Amman Riding Club, and participation in a highly popular televised sports magazine watched by youth and other sports fans.
At a press conference marking the end of the action-packed visit, Figo was optimistic. "I was amazed to see the energy of young boys and girls, the spirit of cooperation and commitment of the government and the willingness of society to be part of a public health campaign against tuberculosis," he said.