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SEATTLE -- On the eve of a major White House summit on malaria, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed $83.5 million in new grants to combat the disease, which claims more than one million lives every year. The grants will expand access to bednets, treatment, and other malaria control tools; speed research on vaccines and other new prevention methods; and boost global advocacy to fight the disease. Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, will speak at the White House summit on December 14.
“Every day, thousands of mothers watch helplessly as their children die from a disease that we have known how to prevent for decades,” Mrs. Gates said. “The continuing toll of malaria is a moral outrage—we would not allow it here in the U.S., and we should not allow it anywhere.”
“The world is finally waking up to the malaria catastrophe,” Mrs. Gates continued. “It’s time to close the gap in funding, accelerate research, and work together in a more strategic way to strengthen the global malaria fight.”
The upcoming White House malaria summit, hosted by President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, will convene 250 political leaders, scientists, and advocates to discuss new opportunities to combat malaria globally and kick off new public-private efforts to address the disease.
In her remarks, Mrs. Gates will applaud recent increases in funding to tackle malaria through efforts like the President’s Malaria Initiative, the World Bank’s Booster Program for Malaria Control, and the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. However, she will urge world leaders to agree on a new, coordinated global strategy to fight malaria. The strategy would help maximize the impact of malaria resources by tapping the individual strengths of all players in the field, preventing duplication of effort, and filling key gaps in global malaria control.
Mrs. Gates will also call for major new resources for malaria control and research. According to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, global spending on malaria control falls far short of the $3.1 billion needed annually. Malaria research is also severely under-funded—a recent study by the Malaria R&D Alliance estimated that malaria research funding in 2004 totaled just $323 million, less than 0.3% of total health research spending worldwide.
New Grants to Expand Malaria Control, R&D Initiatives The grants announced today include projects to expand access to existing prevention and treatment tools, accelerate research and development of new tools, and strengthen global malaria advocacy efforts. The grants include:
Malaria control: $29 million to the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), based at PATH, to develop a network of five African countries committed to fighting malaria. The program will support collaboration among developing countries, donors, and other public and private partners to rapidly expand and evaluate the participating countries’ malaria control programs, based on lessons learned from MACEPA’s work to date in Zambia.
Vaccine research: $29.3 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) for research on a promising malaria vaccine candidate, and $3.5 million to the Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology to study potential antigens for use in malaria vaccines. MVI will investigate the potential for an attenuated malaria parasite to safely protect against malaria infection.
Preventive treatment for infants: $2.2 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop guidelines for intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in infants (IPTi), a new strategy to prevent severe malaria, and $2.7 million to the Fundacio Clinic per a la Recerca Biomedica of the University of Barcelona for research on the acceptability and sustainability of IPTi.
Diagnostics: $9.8 million to the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) to evaluate existing diagnostic tests for malaria, and develop guidelines for the effective and efficient use of malaria tests in the field.
Roll Back Malaria Partnership: $7.1 million to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), based at WHO, to increase technical assistance to malaria programs in Southern Africa, and strengthen global advocacy activities.
Every year, 350-500 million people are infected with malaria, and more than one million people die of the disease. Malaria kills more African children than any other disease—more than 2,000 per day. Over the past 20 years, malaria deaths have doubled in parts of Africa, largely due to growing resistance to the cheapest and most widely-used drugs.
Including the grants announced today, the Gates Foundation has committed $765.8 million to fight malaria to date. The foundation has committed an additional $650 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, which supports national malaria control programs.
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