THE leaders of the Commonwealth have pledged £2.7 billion to try to halt the resurgence of malaria.
At a summit convened by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the run-up to this Wednesday’s World Malaria Day, Commonwealth leaders were asked for a commitment to halving the number of malaria cases over the next five years. Six out of ten cases around the world occur in Commonwealth countries.
The latest figures from the World Health Organization show that in 2016 there were 216 million malaria cases globally, an increase of five million cases since 2015. In 2016, 445,000 people died from the disease.
Bill Gates told the summit: “If there is one lesson we have learned . . . it’s that we have to keep innovating to control malaria, because conditions evolve.”
He called for more investment in satellite monitoring of mosquitoes, to allow scientists to identify strains of malaria parasites and track resistance, and to create more specific intervention packages.
His foundation pledged an additional £700 million over the next five years to fighting the disease.
The UK Government has said that it will also invest £500 million a year for the next three years in eradicating malaria.
New treatments for the disease are being developed, including the first malaria vaccine, which will be used to protect young children in selected areas of three countries in Africa where the vast majority of cases and deaths from the disease occur.
More than one million people die from malaria each year, mostly children under five years old; and 90 per cent of malaria cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Some successes against the disease are still being achieved by traditional methods. The charity Compassion UK said that its projects working with families in Togo had seen malaria cases fall to zero in the past two years. The charity provides education, medical check-ups, and nutritional support for families whose children are at high risk of the disease.