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Bill Gates and UK Chancellor announce £3 billion to fight malaria

28 January 2016

Bill Gates, whose Foundation funds the ACT Consortium, and UK Chancellor George Osbourne announced a joint commitment of £3 billion over the next five years to help the world get closer to winning the war on malaria.


Press release - Malaria No More UK

The Chancellor made the announcement alongside Bill Gates and International Development Secretary Justine Greening at the Liverpool School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Together they were reviewing some of the UK’s most exciting and pioneering innovations to fight against infectious diseases including malaria, one of the world’s oldest, most deadly diseases that is believed to have killed half of all people who have ever lived.

Today(25th Janunary, 2016)’s announcement will see the UK offer at least £500 million p.a. to fight malaria over the course of this Parliament (2015-2020). This sustains the increased support achieved during the last Parliament (2010-2015). Funds will be invested by the Department for International Development, through a combination of multilateral, bilateral and R&D support. They will include malaria components of the new Ross Fund, announced in the autumn. The fund is aptly named after the British doctor, Ronald Ross, who first discovered that mosquitoes transmit malaria back in 1897. His breakthrough earned him the Nobel Prize for Medicine and laid the groundwork for the UK to become a true global leader in fighting malaria.

The UK’s sustained and significant support influences other governments and donors, including in Africa, to step up every effort as this is one killer disease that really can be beaten if political will is sustained locally and globally. Thanks to a concerted international push there has been extraordinary progress to save lives: Deaths have been cut by 60 per cent in the last 15 years with over six million lives saved, mainly young children and pregnant women.  However the need remains desperately urgent – malaria is one of the biggest child killers in Africa, claiming many hundreds of innocent lives every day.

James Whiting, Malaria No More UK’s Executive Director reacts: “We wholeheartedly welcome the UK’s announcement and ongoing leadership in the malaria campaign. Today’s news will have a profound and lasting impact on the lives of countless families across Africa and sends a powerful signal to political leaders internationally to give urgent priority to the malaria fight in 2016. The news also builds on sterling work undertaken by The Department for International Development attacking malaria on every front – from supporting world class research and development into pioneering new solutions to save lives, to investing in partnerships with African countries with the heaviest death tolls.  Long may this continue”. 

Chancellor Osborne witnessed the devastation of malaria on a trip to Uganda in 2007 where he spoke out about the opportunity to win the war on malaria. He also reflected the powerful economic argument to make malaria no more: the disease cripples entire economies, costing the African continent around £8 billion a year in lost productivity. Conversely investing in malaria is one of the ‘best buys’ in global health and recent studies have shown investments offer more than £15 back on every £1 invested This morning the Chancellor and Bill Gates shared their vision and optimism to make malaria no more a reality and eradicate the disease in our lifetime, creating a safer world for everyone.

Today’s news follows President Obama’s recent outspoken vision to see the end of malaria. Earlier this month, in his final State of the Union address, the President shared his intention to urge Congress to fund malaria this year. Combined with the UK’s commitment, this shared vision has enormous potential to give fresh impetus to international funders including in Southeast Asia and Africa at a critical time in the malaria campaign and in the run up to the replenishment of the Global Fund, to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The Fund manages over half of all malaria programmes globally and has distributed over 548 million mosquito nets.  Its three yearly replenishment coming up later this year will be a major moment for the future malaria fight.

British mother Jo Yirrell, a Special Ambassador for Malaria No More UK, lost her 20 year old son Harry to malaria in July 2005. He returned home after volunteering Ghana where he gave away his malaria pills. He tragically died 10 days after coming back to England. Jo says: “Words cannot begin to describe the agony of losing my eldest son to a disease that costs less than a cup of tea to treat. My heart goes out every day to the Mums and Dads around the world who are experiencing the same loss. I take enormous comfort in the UK’s championing of the malaria fight and the amazing progress to save lives since Harry died. I know he would be cheering at today’s news, as I am!”

British scientist Sir Richard Feachem, a leading light in malaria elimination reflects: "There has never been a time when progress in the fight against malaria has been stronger. Today's announcement, and the increased UK support to stamping out malaria everywhere, is a major milestone which will accelerate our journey to a malaria-free world. Bravo UK!"

David Schellenberg, Professor of Malaria and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine adds: “This is tremendous news for the UK scientific community as our work on innovation is vital if we’re to beat malaria. In the 20 years I’ve been working on malaria we’ve refined and transformed our life-saving health technologies beyond recognition.  I have no doubt that today’s news will enable creation of new tools and strategies to stay one step ahead of the mosquito, one of the tiniest, yet most deadly and adaptable creatures on earth”.