The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Jan. 26 that it is teaming up with the British government to provide £3 billion for malaria elimination efforts over the next five years. Each year, the United Kingdom will allot £500 million from the government’s overseas aid budget to this new fund, and the Gates Foundation will contribute $200 million.
The fund will focus on research and development to make progress on the hard-won victories made against the disease over the past 15 years. Since 2000, malaria mortality rates have dropped 60 percent. In December, the WHO reported that the number of malaria deaths in children under 5 years of age declined by 65 percent.
Despite this progress, one child still dies every two minutes from this preventable disease. Public-private partnerships, such as this new malaria investment, are critical in the fight for global health. Funding for research and development is key to defeating the epidemic, particularly when paired with on-the-ground implementation programs like those supported by the Global Fund.
In fact, the Global Fund recently reported its latest year-end results, which included the purchase and distribution of 600 million mosquito nets, an increase of 35 percent over 2014.
But eradicating malaria wouldn’t just save lives. Anti-malaria efforts also contribute to economic growth around the world. The CDC estimates that the direct cost of malaria – in terms of treatment, premature deaths due to the disease, etc. – is $12 billion per year. Furthermore, a recent Gates Foundation report highlights the $2 trillion in economic benefits that would be unlocked if malaria is eliminated within a generation. Malaria control also supports the growth of sustainable businesses in emerging markets.
Collectively, efforts to fight malaria by the Global Fund and partners worldwide have averted approximately 1.2 billion cases, and saved 6.2 million lives. Through continued collaboration and strategic investment, we can save millions more lives, improve countries’ economic conditions, and rid the globe of the scourge of malaria.