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GSK in malaria collaboration with Comic Relief

Published on 15/12/15 at 09:43am
Malaria mosquito
Malaria is caused by a parasite spread by mosquitoes

GSK and UK-based charity Comic Relief have launched a five-year partnership to fight malaria and improve health in five countries worst affected by the disease.

The two organisations are teaming up in support of global efforts to strengthen health systems’ capabilities to fight malaria – a disease which still claims almost half a million lives every year, mostly in children under five in sub-Saharan Africa.

A new fund – created through a £17 million donation from GSK and £5m from Comic Relief – will provide targeted grants over the next five years to organisations on the frontline, tackling malaria and improving health in five malaria-endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia: Ghana, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and the Greater Mekong region.

The grants will complement current malaria programmes and help build sustainable ways to ensure people can access diagnosis and prevention at the right time and in the right place. The partnership aims to support the World Health Organisation’s target to cut the number of malaria cases and mortality rates by 90% by 2030, and the Roll Back Malaria partnership’s ultimate goal of a malaria-free world.

The WHO strategy focuses on bolstering global and national programmes to control malaria and increase access to diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Significant progress has been made since 2000 –illustrated by the WHO World Malaria Report 2015, published last week, which showed that deaths have more than halved through increased use of bed nets, scale-up of diagnostic testing and better access to medicines.

However, the disease continues to take a heavy human and economic toll, straining already fragile health systems. In 2015 alone, there were an estimated 214 million new malaria cases and 438,000 deaths, 90% of which were in Africa.

Comic Relief and GSK launched the partnership at the Science Museum in London. Speaking at the partnership launch, Kevin Cahill, chief executive of Comic Relief, said: “This partnership with GSK is built on a joint desire to make a real and lasting difference to the health of people across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The tragedy of malaria is that it is a disease that is both preventable and curable but still kills nearly half a million people every year. We are excited to continue our work to help eliminate this terrible disease alongside our new partner GSK.” 

Ramil Burden, vice president for Africa and developing countries at GSK, says: “We are hugely excited to step up our fight against malaria in collaboration with Comic Relief. As a healthcare company, GSK has long been involved in battling this disease but we know more needs to be done.

“We are delighted to partner with Comic Relief, who bring a deep understanding of supporting communities to improve health and prospects. Our partnership will support global efforts aimed at trying to reduce the burden of malaria by 90% by 2030. Not only will this help unlock human and economic potential, but it will also provide a springboard for managing other current and future health challenges.”

Joel Levy

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