Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Gives London School $40 Million to Combat Malaria
Dr. Barbara Judge
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
LONDON -- The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine today received a $40 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop new treatments and preventive measures for malaria.
The donation will play a key role in meeting the international target of halving child mortality from malaria by 2010. An estimated 300-500 million cases of malaria occur each year, with 3,000 children dying each day from malaria in Africa.
The grant will support a new program of research and training in London, Liverpool, Copenhagen, Malawi, Gambia, Ghana and Tanzania. A key objective is to develop centers of excellence in Africa, where malaria remains a major problem.
The Foundation donation comes just one week after the G-8 commitment to reduce the burden of disease associated with malaria by 50% by 2010, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair's doubling of funding to develop new treatments for diseases, including malaria.
"The London School's track record demonstrates that it can bring together leading health institutions in Europe and Africa to develop, evaluate and implement new tools for malaria prevention and control," said Dr. Gordon Perkin, Director of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Malaria is the most prevalent tropical disease in the world today. Only through expanded research and partnerships will we begin to make progress in addressing this public health challenge."
"Over 3,000 children die each day from malaria in Africa," said Geoffrey Targett, Acting Dean of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. "The financial costs of malaria are enormous and hold back economic growth in poor countries with few resources. The London School's world renowned group of laboratory scientists, epidemiologists, control experts and economists will be working with counterparts in Europe and Africa to contribute to the new international goal to halve global mortality in children by 2010."
Key elements of the program include:
* laboratory research to develop new drugs, insecticides and vaccines, through partnerships with academic and industrial institutions;
* evaluation of new tools for the treatment and control of malaria in collaboration with scientists in malaria endemic areas;
* rapid introduction of new malaria control methods by strengthening links with ministries of health in malaria endemic areas and with key international organizations, such as the World Health Organization; and
* strengthening the capacity of scientists and public health staff from malaria endemic countries to contribute to malaria research and control through a wide-ranging program of training and support.
"This program will strengthen the research and training capacity of centers in Africa," said Brian Greenwood, Manson Professor of Tropical Medicine. "A good indicator of the success that we shall strive to achieve would be the selection of one or more of the African centers as direct recipients of a Foundation grant in the future."
Commenting on the impact the project will have on laboratory research, Professor Eleanor Riley said, "Indiscriminate use of anti-malarials has already led to widespread drug resistance. More research on the mechanisms by which resistance develops and spreads will allow us to extend the useful lifespan of new drugs, insecticides and vaccines."
This project is being undertaken in collaboration with the following institutions: The College of Medicine and associated Wellcome Trust Research Laboratories, Blantyre, Malawi; the Danish Bilharziasis Laboratory, Copenhagen; Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine; Medical Research Council Laboratories, The Gambia; Ministry of Health and Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana; National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania; University of Copenhagen; University of Liverpool Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics; WHO - African Regional Office; WHO – Roll Back Malaria.
The London School celebrated its centenary last year. Since its creation in 1899, malaria has formed a major part of its research portfolio. The School is currently involved in 70 malaria-related projects in 24 countries worldwide. Over 50 staff and 27 doctoral students work on malaria, and their interests range from basic laboratory research to field evaluation of new interventions and their subsequent implementation into health systems.