Malaria

our goal

A world free of malaria.

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A woman and child with bed nets in their home in Lupiro village, Tanzania.

At a glance

  • Over the past two decades, increased funding, the scale-up of effective interventions, and political commitment have dramatically reduced the global burden of malaria, preventing 1.5 billion cases and saving 7.6 million lives.
  • But progress has slowed in recent years. Malaria persists in high-burden communities, and challenges including drug and insecticide resistance, stagnant funding, and emergent diseases such as COVID-19 threaten continued progress.
  • According to the 2020 World Malaria Report, there were an estimated 229 million malaria cases in 2019, more than 90 percent of them in Africa. An estimated 409,000 people died from malaria in 2019, mostly children under age 5.
  • Eradication is the only sustainable approach to addressing malaria. By using existing tools effectively to save lives and advancing innovative approaches to eradication, we can rid the world of this preventable, treatable disease.

The latest updates on malaria

Wendy Wei (right, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) discusses China's "1-3-7" approach with scientists and public health experts, in an effort to apply the approach in Tanzania.

China's successful elimination of malaria, and its global impact

China’s achievement shows us that it’s possible to eliminate the disease worldwide. Innovative Chinese approaches may provide a successful formula for Africa, which has 90% of the global malaria burden.
By Wendy Wei Senior Program Officer, Malaria
Rural worker

How do you solve a problem like malaria?

In 2017, malaria accounted for 435,000 deaths globally—less than half the number as at the turn of the millennium. Eradication is possible, but progress has slowed down since previous decades and some fear it may even rebound. Medical historian Mark Honigsbaum explores the challenges we face, what progress really means today, and what we can do to ensure it continues.
By Mark Honigsbaum Medical historian and author
Mosquito Bed Net

To beat mosquitos, researchers must think like mosquitos

Mosquitos are smarter than most people realize. They have four well-developed senses (sight, smell, taste, and hearing), a capacity for making decisions, and an ability to develop flavor preferences. That means, in the battle against malaria it helps to think like a mosquito.
By Ryan Bell Feature Writer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
OUR STRATEGY

Our strategy

Malaria eradication is a top priority of the foundation. For two decades, we have devoted resources and expertise to a relentless pursuit of malaria eradication, and we have continuously adapted our approach to achieve the greatest possible impact, in partnership with the global community. We support efforts to:

  • Reduce the burden of malaria by expanding the use of effective existing tools, including preventive medication and case management, and improving disease surveillance and data for decision-making high-burden settings

  • Accelerate progress toward eradication by investing in next-generation surveillance systems, elimination in regions where drug-resistant malaria has emerged, and research and development efforts

  • Get ahead of resistance by eliminating falciparum malaria—the type that causes the most severe cases and deaths—in the Greater Mekong Subregion, developing a robust pipeline of new treatments, and analyzing disease and mosquito genetic data to quickly respond to threats
A health care worker explains malaria treatment options at a rural health center in Zambia.
A health care worker explains malaria treatment options at a rural health center in Zambia.

Our contributions account for less than 5 percent of the $4.3 billion invested annually in the fight against malaria. To maximize our impact, we concentrate our resources in areas where our efforts can be catalytic, assume risks that would be more challenging for others to take, and focus on long-term objectives.

Any goal short of eradicating malaria is accepting malaria, it’s making peace with malaria, it’s rich countries saying, "We don’t need to eradicate malaria around the world as long as we’ve eliminated it in our own countries." That is just unacceptable.
Melinda Gates
AREAS OF FOCUS

Areas of focus

Together with our partners, we fight malaria by working to expand access to existing tools, using data to better track and target the disease, advancing research on potentially transformative innovations, and advocating for others to join in the effort to end malaria.

Many of the tools and approaches needed to fight malaria—including insecticide-treated bed nets, rapid diagnostic tests, effective medicines, and access to treatment—already exist and have been instrumental in delivering the progress achieved to date. However, in many high-burden countries, cases continue to rise. This points to an urgent need to ensure that the right tools and health services are reaching the people who need them.

Although our investments are a small fraction of global contributions to this effort, we act as a catalyst by investing in partners that are expanding access to tools on a large scale and investing in data systems that give governments timely and useful information for decision-making.

In some places, malaria is a seasonal disease that is highly susceptible to changes in temperature or rainfall. In other places, small differences in factors such as elevation and geography can mean that one community faces a heavy burden year-round while a neighboring community may not.

For many years, timely, high-quality data on where, when, and who malaria strikes has been lacking, particularly in countries and communities with the highest burdens. This has allowed malaria to maintain its hold.  

To address this challenge, we invest in organizations that are working to map malaria’s burden down to the community level and in real time, enabling malaria programs to better identify the location, timing, and tools needed to fight malaria. We also support the use of data, modeling, and molecular techniques that can strengthen malaria responses around the world while ensuring efficient use of limited resources.

The tools and approaches we have today, though essential to saving lives, will not be sufficient to end malaria for good. Eradication—and staying ahead of insecticide and drug resistance—will require new tools that address specific challenges. But few market incentives exist to develop products for the world’s poorest people, and many of the most exciting approaches have development cycles that are too long-term for other types of organizations to support.

To improve the tools we have and move forward with big ideas, we invest in organizations that are advancing the next generation of life-saving malaria treatments, as well as leading-edge researchers who are working to develop genetic vector control methods and malaria vaccines.

Progress against malaria isn’t possible without a diverse chorus of champions and a broad base of support.

That’s why we invest in organizations that are advocating for progress against malaria and engaging political leaders, influencers, and civil society in this fight. We also work to convene global experts, advance the work of partnerships, and encourage action by those who can do more. And we work closely with the leaders of malaria-endemic countries to provide support and help build momentum.

WHY FOCUS ON MALARIA?

Why focus on malaria?

Malaria exacts a massive toll on human health and imposes a heavy social and economic burden in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 229 million people had malaria in 2019, more than 90 percent of them in Africa, and about 409,000 died, mostly children under age 5. Malaria’s economic impact is estimated in the billions of dollars in lost productivity every year.

Ending malaria for good—eradication—is an achievable goal that will save lives and is the only sustainable solution to address this disease. As long as malaria exists, it will be an engine of inequality, burdening the poorest and most vulnerable communities, and it will have the potential to resurge in times of crisis. Aspiring to anything less than eradication means accepting the suffering and deaths of children in poor countries.

Ridding the world of malaria will lead to healthier, more prosperous communities that are better able to thrive, prosper, and confront new health challenges as they arise. Along the way, the choices we make to improve existing efforts in countries with the highest burdens, improve existing technologies and develop new breakthroughs, and encourage continued political commitment at every level will save lives.

A community health volunteer visits a child who has malaria in Zambia.
A community health volunteer visits a child with malaria in Zambia.
STRATEGY LEADERSHIP

Strategy leadership

The work of the Malaria team is touched by hundreds of foundation staff working across dozens of issues around the world. Since 2018, the team has been led by Philip Welkhoff.
OUR PARTNERS

Our partners

We do our work in collaboration with grantees and other partners, who join with us in the vision of a world free of malaria.
African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA)

ALMA works with African leaders to ensure that malaria remains a priority on the political and policy agenda at the regional and national levels.

Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) and Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN)
APLMA and APMEN work with governments and the private sector to generate leadership, financing, and operational support for the effort to eliminate malaria from the Asia-Pacific region by 2030.
Civil Society for Malaria Elimination (CS4ME)

CS4ME is a global network of civil society organizations and communities working to achieve malaria elimination and ensure that communities are at the center of malaria programs.

Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)

CHAI provides operational support to over 20 countries to expand diagnostic testing for malaria and increase access to treatment. It also helps governments strengthen disease surveillance and data analysis to identify where transmission is occurring and better target interventions where they can have the greatest impact.

Elimination Eight Initiative (E8)

The E8 is a coalition of eight countries working across national borders to eliminate malaria in southern Africa by 2030.

End Malaria Council (EMC)

EMC is a group of high-level leaders from around the world who are working toward malaria eradication.

Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria
The Global Fund works to deliver solutions that advance global health and development and raise awareness of the ongoing fights against HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.
Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC)
IVCC works to reduce the impact of vector-borne diseases and contribute to their control and elimination by improving vector control tools, supporting enhanced evaluation processes, ensuring the quality of products, and improving their judicious and safe use.
Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) at the University of California, San Francisco

MEI works to advance malaria elimination in priority regions of southern Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, and support the global goal of malaria eradication, through evidence generation, technical assistance, resource mobilization, and capacity building.

Malaria No More

Malaria No More mobilizes political commitment, funding, and innovation to achieve the end of malaria within a generation.

Malaria No More UK

Malaria No More UK works to galvanize political and multi-sector leadership, visibility, funding, and action to halve malaria in the Commonwealth by 2023 and support progress toward global 2030 targets on the road to eradication.

Malaria Partners International

Malaria Partners International works to connect Rotary clubs and the broader global health community to prevent malaria and address its effects on maternal and child health.

Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV)

MMV works to further drug discovery and development aimed at delivering innovative medicines for malaria in endemic countries.

Oxitec

Oxitec is developing a self-limiting genetic-based vector control platform for potential future application to contribute to integrated vector control efforts.

Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA)

PAMCA works to provide a platform for capacity building, knowledge sharing, and collaboration for concerted vector control initiatives on the African continent.

PATH Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership in Africa (MACEPA)

MACEPA collaborates with African countries to scale up interventions to reduce the burden of malaria, as well as generate evidence and support planning for new strategies to accelerate progress toward elimination.

RBM Partnership to End Malaria

The RBM Partnership works to keep malaria high on the global agenda, increase financing for combating malaria, and support countries in their efforts to eliminate the disease.

Target Malaria

Target Malaria is a nonprofit research consortium that aims to develop and share technology to reduce the population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in sub-Saharan Africa.

UN Foundation / Nothing But Nets campaign

The Nothing But Nets campaign works to increase awareness about malaria and raise funds to purchase and distribute bed nets to children under age 5 in Africa.

World Health Organization (WHO) Global Malaria Programme (GMP)

The GMP coordinates WHO's global efforts to control and eliminate malaria.