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Gates Foundation plans to eradicate malaria

The world's biggest private aid organisation, financed by one of the world's most wealthy individuals, plans to make a huge difference, by helping to eliiminate one of the world's most deadly diseases.

In wealthy countries, the war against malaria was won nearly half a century ago.
Malaria then changed from a disease affecting many parts of the world to a disease affecting only poor countries. Efforts to fight malaria in Africa and elsewhere faded from lack of funding, but the disease continued to devastate communities in the developing world.

Today the disease is killing poor people in developing countries and crippling their economies. The financial cost of malaria is crippling economic development in Africa, where countries are losing billions of dollars a year due to the high cost of medicines and reduced productivity.

In 2006, there were 247 million cases of malaria and 881,000 deaths from the disease. The disease takes the lives of 2,000 children a day in Africa, where the most lethal forms of the malaria parasite and the most aggressive mosquitoes are found. While malaria can be treated, people who survive the disease can suffer debilitating consequences, including mothers giving birth to babies with low birth weight and children developing severe anaemia.

The Gates Foundation is working to reduce malaria deaths sharply by 2015 and its long term goal is to eradicate this deadly disease. A range of effective malaria treatments and prevention methods can save lives if we can get them to people most at risk. That’s why Gates is funding efforts to make them available to those in need. The Foundation works with partners around the world and supports efforts to speed malaria research, expand access to life-saving drugs and prevention methods, and advocate for greater action in the following ways:

It aims to develop malaria vaccines and other new prevention strategies by funding research to discover, develop, and clinically test malaria vaccines, which could have a significant impact on the health of infants, children, and pregnant women. It also supports the discovery, development, and clinical testing of other prevention strategies. For example, Intermittent Preventive Treatment for infants (IPTi) protects infants from infection by giving an anti-malarial drug at the time of routine vaccinations.

New medicines are essential because of the potential development of resistance to current malaria drugs. That’s why the Foundation is funding the discovery, development, and clinical testing of more effective and affordable drugs, as well as drugs that can be used safely to treat malaria during pregnancy. In addition, it aims to develop drugs that could be used to interrupt transmission of the disease.

The Gates Foundation also aims to develop improved methods for mosquito control by supporting the development and delivery of methods to prevent mosquitoes from transmitting malaria from human to human. These include more effective pesticides designed to overcome or avoid resistance, new forms of residual pesticide spraying and strategies for monitoring their use, and insecticide-treated bed nets that provide inexpensive and lasting protection against mosquitoes.

The Foundation supports initiatives like The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which plays a leading role in providing funds to countries for bed nets and effective drug treatments. We also support the government of Zambia’s ambitious national effort to expand malaria control and to share the lessons learned with other countries. In addition, we’re developing innovative financing mechanisms for product introduction and adoption, and addressing obstacles to product procurement and distribution.

It also aims to develop public awareness about malaria and advocate for effective research and control. Greater political commitment, funding, and coordination are critical for making progress on these issues. To address this Gates is helping to build awareness among decision makers and the public, and working to advocate for effective malaria research and control. It supports the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, the global body of coordination, collaboration, and advocacy, committed to providing a global approach to fighting malaria.