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Gates pledges further funds to tackle malaria

October 30, 2005 By Roxanne Khamsi This article courtesy of Nature News.

But research is still under-supported, says a new survey.

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced three new grants to accelerate malaria research, totalling nearly US$260 million. But new figures recently released show that only 0.3% of global spending on health research goes towards fighting this disease, which affects some 300 million people every year.

Through the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, $107.6 million of the new funding will be used in the development of one of the prime vaccine candidates, known as RTS,S. A further $100 million will go towards making better drugs available to malaria patients. Researchers developing insecticides and other methods to tackle the mosquitoes that spread the disease will receive $50.7 million.

"We need to speed up research to develop effective and affordable new drugs, mosquito control methods and a vaccine. Even a partially effective vaccine would be of tremendous value in preventing malaria deaths," Gates said at a press conference last week.

Meanwhile, global funding in 2004 for malaria research totalled only $323 million, according to a report from the Malaria R&D Alliance, which receives financial support from the Gates Foundation. The new survey states that the disease accounts for roughly 3% of the global disease burden, but receives only 0.3% of total spending on health-related research and development.

More details from the report:

  • The US government invested $129 million in malaria research and development in 2004. This was more than 70% of the total public-sector support. Funding from European governments and the European Commission totalled US$36.1 million.
  • The private sector invested $39 million in malaria research in 2004, representing 12% of the overall funding.
  • The non-profit sector provided 32% of malaria research funding in 2004, with an investment of $103 million.
  • Antimalarial drug discovery and development received the greatest proportion of funds: 37% ($120 million) of the 2004 total investment. In second place was vaccine development and testing, which received 24% ($79 million).

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