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UK Government commits £1 billion to malaria fight

Published on 26/01/16 at 09:39am
pharmacy Senegal
A pharmacy in Dakar, Senegal - a malaria affected country (Credit: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Chancellor George Osborne has set out details of a billion pound fund to develop, test and produce new products to combat malaria and other serious infectious diseases in developing countries.

At an announcement attended by billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, Mr Osborne said that the Ross Fund, named after Britain’s first Nobel Laureate Sir Ronald Ross – who discovered malaria is transmitted by the Anopheles species of mosquito – will fund R&D in into anti-microbial resistance, diseases with epidemic potential, such as Ebola, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

The fund will be managed by Department for International Development and the Department of Health, and will provide Government funding to support the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners to reduce deaths from malaria by 90% by 2030.

The funding will mean £500 million a year invested by the UK government for the next five years. The Gates Foundation will spend $200 million in 2016 to support R&D for malaria and to accelerate regional malaria elimination efforts, with a similar amount over each of the following four years.

The Ross Fund will also include over £350 million for development of new medical products, including vaccines and diagnostics to prevent and respond to future disease outbreaks, such as Ebola, insecticides against malaria and drugs and diagnostics for NTDs (see box, below).

Mr Osborne says: “I am determined that our overseas aid budget is spent on the challenges people in Britain want to see addressed –and those that threaten global and national security. Across the globe over a billion people are infected with malaria and it’s a cause of both untold misery and lost economic potential. That’s why, working with Bill Gates, I’m determined that Britain leads the world in the fight against this disease.”

While Bill Gates adds: “Britain is a global leader in the fight against deadly diseases like malaria – a disease that still claims the life of a child every minute. From the strength of its scientific community, to the bravery of the ordinary men and women who go out to fight these diseases, the UK’s commitment to global health is building healthier futures for people living in the world’s poorest places and making the world a safer place for all of us.”

The Gates’ Foundation will also partner and invest in the Global Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) Research Innovation Fund, along with China and the UK, which will also be providing £315 million from the Ross Fund, including £265 million to strengthen surveillance of drug resistance and laboratory capacity in developing countries.

Lilian Anekwe

Funding with the Ross Fund

  • £100 million for research and development for infectious diseases
  • £90 million for malaria implementation, as part of the UK’s investment towards reducing deaths from malaria by 90% by 2030
  • £115 million to develop new drugs, diagnostics and insecticides for diseases of emerging resistance (including malaria and TB)
  • £315 million fighting AMR including investing £265m in the Fleming Fund to strengthen surveillance of drug resistance and laboratory capacity in developing countries
  • £188 million focussed on prevention and response to future disease outbreaks such as Ebola
  • £100 million in vaccines (on top of £20m previously committed to the UK Vaccine Network)
  • £200 million to tackle NTDs, which includes development of products, including drugs and diagnostics, and continuing the UK’s investments in disease prevention and treatment.
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