$11bn needed for malaria control

Andrew Jack | 24 Jan 2008
Financial Times

A group of government and business leaders will on Friday unveil a plan to sharply reduce the impact of malaria in the developing world. The Malaria Implementation Support Team plans to rapidly boost prevention and treatment measures in the 30 African countries most hard hit by malaria, which causes more than a million deaths and very large numbers of hospital admissions each year.

A report by McKinsey & Company and Malaria No More estimates that such a scale-up of malaria controls would require $11bn in donor funding over five years.

The move marks a fresh effort to reinvigorate the fight to eradicate malaria, using a series of well-tested approaches including the distribution of bed nets, indoor spraying with pesticides and combination drug therapies.

It follows long-standing frustration that malaria continues to cause widespread personal and economic damage, despite frequent political pressure, growing funds and a number of existing organisations working to tackle the parasite.

The new malaria team, to be announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, will be jointly chaired by the head of the World Health Organisation, Ethiopia's health minister, and Malaria No More, a business-led group.

It will work closely with Roll Back Malaria, the existing multi-lateral coordinating body, as well as the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria, the World Bank, Unicef and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Rajat Gupta from McKinsey, which drew up the new estimate of costs, and who also chairs the Global Fund, said past efforts had failed because the groups involved "represented the interests and politics of the organisations they came from and were not answerable to the common task in hand."

He said: "We have pretty much all the tools to aggressively control the disease and reduce or eliminate mortality, but it has not been done."

The Gates Foundation last autumn offered fresh funding as part of a long-term objective to eradicate malaria.