Gates doubles down on malaria eradication with influential new group

A man gets tested for malaria in Solomon Islands. Photo by: Jeremy Miller / DFAT / CC BY

Today marks the launch of the End Malaria Council, a group of influential public and private sector leaders committed to eradicating malaria, convened by Bill Gates and Ray Chambers.

“Ending malaria was once an impossible dream,” said Jakaya Kikwete, the former president of Tanzania and one of nine inaugural members of the council, in a release provided to Devex ahead of the announcement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday. “It is now within our reach. It will take strong leadership and serious financial commitments, but I believe we can make history and end this brutal disease once and for all.”

This is not the first time Bill Gates and Ray Chambers have collaborated. Previously, the co chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Health in Agenda 2030 and for malaria co-authored the report “Aspiration to Action: What will it take to end malaria?” Through this new council, they will mobilize the voices and networks of members around three areas, according to the announcement: “building political will, mobilizing resources, and supporting the development of new tools to find, prevent and treat malaria.”

The launch of this coalition is timely, following a call to action in the 2016 World Malaria Report for global leadership to build on 15 years of unprecedented gains in the fight against malaria.

“We have put malaria on notice, but the fight is not finished," Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More, told Devex. “If we let up now, we risk losing ground to this vicious killer.”

In an interview with Devex last year on how Sri Lanka eliminated malaria, Edlund talked about the need for coalitions like this one. The End Malaria Council will help ensure the world has the long term political commitment, resources, and tools it needs to end malaria once and for all, he told Devex Thursday. There is some overlap between the Malaria No More board and the End Malaria Council, with Chambers and media executive Peter Chernin represented in both groups.

African countries are well represented among the inaugural members of the End Malaria Council, which include Kikwete of Tanzania, the founder of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique, the president of Liberia, and the president of Chad, who will represent the African Leaders Malaria Alliance. Other members include business leaders Chernin and Aliko Dangote as well as Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank. The End Malaria Council has plans to represent all key malaria endemic regions, including Asia and Latin America.

The council also plans to work in collaboration with the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, which was launched in 1998 by the World Health Organization, World Bank, UNICEF, and the United Nations Development Program, and remains an important platform for coordination between individuals and organizations working to fight the disease.

“The challenges ahead, however, require the engagement of more resources, more leadership and new technologies to meet the goal of eradicating malaria in our generation,” Bruno Moonen, deputy director for malaria at the Gates Foundation, told Devex via email. “The End Malaria Council is a unique grouping of leaders from the public and private sectors that will use their voices and influence to help keep countries and regions on track to achieve their ambitious malaria elimination goals, and lay groundwork for the final push against malaria.”

More than half of the founding members met in Davos at the WEF meetings to discuss financing. Current levels of financing are not sufficient for the final push to end malaria, a Gates Foundation spokesperson told Devex, adding that while traditional development assistance levels must continue, new sources are needed to fill the gaps.

Given the need to more than double malaria funding by 2025, one of the major goals of the End Malaria Council will be to mobilize new resources by cultivating new donors such as China, elevating malaria on the agenda in countries such as India and encouraging domestic contributions through the new funding model at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Devex is reporting live at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Follow Devex Senior Correspondent Michael Igoe @alterigoe and stayed tuned to Devex for more coverage.

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    Catherine Cheney

    Catherine Cheney is a Senior Reporter for Devex. She covers the West Coast of the U.S., focusing on the role of technology, innovation, and philanthropy in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And she frequently represents Devex as a speaker and moderator. Prior to joining Devex, Catherine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University, worked as a web producer for POLITICO and reporter for World Politics Review, and helped to launch NationSwell. Catherine has reported domestically and internationally for outlets including The Atlantic and the Washington Post. Outside of her own reporting, Catherine also supports other journalists to cover what is working, through her work with the Solutions Journalism Network.