Cowper logo

Background: Fighting malaria in Madagascar

Richard Cowper is going to Madagascar for six months in November 2008 to work as a volunteer under the aegis of the Dodwell trust, a charity run by the famous British explorer, Christina Dodwell.

As an adviser to the International Development Board of the world-famous London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Richard will represent the school's interests in Madagascar. He is particularly keen to hear from any top Malagasy graduates, health officials or scientists who might be interested in studying Public Health and Tropical Disease Eradication systems at the School in London or through distant-learning systems.
The LSHTM is Europe's largest postgraduate school of public health and strongly believes that such foreign students will play a key role in transforming the lives of their own peoples by helping to transform the public health systems in their own countries.
The School has many world-class achievements to its name. Its scientists are leading the way in work on a malaria vaccine; have recently shown that it is possible to eliminate ocular Chlamydia trachomatis with a single oral medicinal dose and have paved the way for the revolution in insecticide-treated mosquito nets. The School has done pioneering work in HIV aids, as well as discovering the key role of excess alcohol in the recent sharp decline in Russia's population, to name but a few major achievements.

Madagascar is one of the world’s most beautiful islands, with a vast array of unique animal and plant species. But it is also one of the world’s poorest nations with significant health and social problems. Some 20,000 children die of malaria, in this the world’s fourth largest island, every year.

Richard Cowper hopes to make a difference in combating malaria and also in helping the country to switch the emphasis from French to English as its main foreign language.

World leaders and philanthropists, including US president George Bush, UK premier Gordon Brown and Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, earlier this year pledged nearly $3bn (£1.6bn) to fight malaria at a summit in New York. At a meeting in the United Nations in September 2008 leaders sought to find the best way to meet the Millenium targets on reducing global poverty by the year 2015.

Donors hope the money will be enough to eradicate malaria by that time. The money includes $1.1bn (£598m) from the World Bank and $1.6bn (£870m) from the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The British government and private organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have promised the rest.

Malaria still kills more than a million people each year, according to the World Health Organization. The funding, will be used to support rapid implementation of the first ever Global Malaria Action Plan (GMap).