Global leaders in renewed fight against malaria

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The prevalence of the malaria parasite in children under five has plunged to 0.2 percent from 4 percent in 2011, according to the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP). Image courtesy: NetDoctor

Global business leaders and health experts from donor and malaria affected countries have pledged £2.7 billion ($3.8 billion) to drive research and innovation and improve access to malaria prevention and treatments.

Spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, leaders are urging more money be allocated to fighting the disease which is seeing an increase in the number of reported cases.

“History has shown that with malaria there is no standing still – we move forward or risk resurgence,” Gates said in a statement at the Commonwealth summit in London.

Gates and others warned against complacency in fighting malaria – a disease which kills around half a million people, mainly babies and young children, each year.

According to health experts, this renewed action and boosted funding to fight malaria could prevent 350 million cases of the disease in the next five years and save 650,000 lives.

Part of the problem is that the mosquitoes and parasites that cause and spread malaria are developing resistance to the weapons we use to fight them – insecticides and antimalarial drugs. Other factors like climate change and conflict can also exacerbate malaria outbreaks.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is co-convening the summit, pledged an extra $1 billion through to 2023 to fund malaria research and development to try to end malaria for good.

Among the new funding an research commitments announced at the summit, the Global fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said $2 billion would be invested in 46 countries affected by malaria between 2018-20.

The 53 Commonwealth countries, mostly former British colonies, are disproportionately affected by malaria – accounting for more than half of all global cases and deaths although they are home to just a third of the world’s population.