Gates Foundation increases funding to combat malaria

Women hold new insecticide-treated bed nets which help protect against mosquitoes that carry malaria. Photo by: Gates Foundation / CC BY-NC-ND 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Sunday it is upping the ante in the fight against malaria and other diseases, increasing their yearly contribution to a total of $500 million.

Between this effort and those of vaccine producers and distributors like the GAVI Alliance and PATH, as well as awareness campaigns mounted by institutions like the World Health Organization, total funding toward battling malaria now exceeds $2 billion over the last decade.

And it has produced results.

Malaria mortality rates have fallen almost 60 percent since 2000, and Gates noted in a statement that he expects to see the disease completely eradicated in his lifetime.

But that’s just one ailment.

Dr. Tara O’Toole, former undersecretary of science and technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, warned at a recent event in Washington, D.C. that global pandemics like Ebola are now likely to get much more funding because many more are expected in the future “and we have a lot fewer antibiotics because of misuse of those miracle cures.”

Crises like Ebola, malaria and H1N1 strain of the swine flu, she explained, will likely become the new normal thanks to extreme overcrowding in urban spaces and poor access to water and sanitation.

“It’s been an unusual hundred years in the developing world, in which epidemics have been much more present and much more terrifying than they were in previous history,” O’Toole said.

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    Molly Anders

    Molly Anders is a U.K. Correspondent for Devex. Based in London, she reports on development finance trends with a focus on British and European institutions. She is especially interested in evidence-based development and women’s economic empowerment, as well as innovative financing for the protection of migrants and refugees. Molly is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied Arabic in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.