In the heart of Westminster malaria advocates, corporate partners and political leaders from all parties came together to celebrate innovation and leadership in the fight against malaria – two critical components that have delivered record progress over the past decade. Progress that has seen young child deaths from malaria halved since 2000 (saving more than 3.3 million lives) and 26 countries on track to eliminate malaria.
The gathering, organised by Malaria No More UK in collaboration with an informal coalition ofpartners*, came half way through a week long exhibition in the Houses of Parliament - Pioneering Progress: Celebrating innovation and UK leadership in the fight against malaria. The collaborative leadership within government, the private sector, academia and civil society has created an environment where innovation has flourished. That innovation could halve death rates from one of the greatest killer diseases in history by 2020.
The exhibition spotlights some of the game-changing developments on the horizon including the world’s first vaccine against malaria potentially being approved in 2015; a new single-dose radical cure for Plasmodium vivax malaria by 2017; and new resistance-beating insecticides available by 2022. Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of pharmaceutical giant, GSK spoke at the event:
The disease has been around since mankind has been around. But we have a chance to nail it.
His company has so far invested more than $350 million in developing a vaccine since the early 1980s, and expects to invest around another $260 million, with a pledge at the event to deliver the vaccine ‘at cost’ with no profit for GSK.
Nailing it means families no longer have to spend up to 25% of their annual income on malaria, fewer school and work days missed, more productive communities and stronger economies. Whilst malaria may be one of the greatest causes of poverty for many, it is also one of the cheapest to end, costing less than the price of a cup of coffee to save a child’s life. When there is the potential for a net return on investment against malaria exceeding $208 billion by 2035, that’s clearly a wise investment.
UK leadership has had an unheralded impact in the battle against one of the world’s oldest diseases. Since 2009 UK aid has helped 11.6 million pregnant women access effective malaria prevention; protect over 50 million people with mosquito nets and insecticide spraying of homes; provide over 14.4 million reliable diagnostic tests and 19.4 million lifesaving treatments; and strengthen health delivery systems and evidence-based programming. That’s effective action indeed and the outcomes provide strong and compelling evidence for why the UK should continue to invest in the malaria fight.
Whist we are united in celebrating the progress, innovation and leadership, we are also determined to ensure that this progress is not be derailed by a drop in funding or attention. We are all too aware that the record progress of recent years could be rapidly reversed without continued political and financial support. And the price would be a high one. History has repeatedly shown us the deadly consequences of prematurely ending anti-malaria programmes. Massive malaria resurgence has frequently occurred following the ending of local malaria programmes in Africa.
It was inspiring to see how positively the assembled parliamentarians and business leaders reacted to the extraordinary progress to date. At the event Admiral Ziemer, leader of the US Government’s malaria programme expressed the shared determination to avoid history repeating itself, to keep our foot to the throttle and avoid the spectre of resurgence. He, Sir Andrew and the UK parliamentarians exemplify the power of collaborative leadership, which is creating the conditions for innovation to flourish. Innovation that could end malaria in our generation – history in the making.
*The coalition of partners who organised the Pioneering Progress exhibition and event include Malaria No More UK, the Malaria Consortium and Public Private Product Development Partnerships IVCC, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and FIND (Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics).
#PioneeringProgress to #DefeatMalaria
To learn more about Malaria No More UK, click here. To learn more about the Malaria Strategy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, click here.