News story

Chancellor George Osborne and Bill Gates to join forces to end malaria

A new £1 billion fund will be used to support the global fight against malaria and other infectious diseases.

Picture: Kate Holt/UNICEF
Picture: Kate Holt/UNICEF

Chancellor George Osborne and Bill Gates have announced they are to join forces as part of the global effort to end malaria.

A new £1 billion Ross Fund – named after Sir Ronald Ross, the first ever British Nobel Laureate who was recognised for his discovery that mosquitoes transmit malaria – will be used to support the global fight against malaria and other infectious diseases.

The announcement is part of a fundamental restructuring of Britain’s aid budget to be set out by the government this week as part of the Chancellor’s Spending Review. Prosperity and security will be at the heart of the new strategy.

The mission to eliminate malaria builds on commitments George Osborne first made on a visit to Uganda, where he promised to meet the 0.7% ODA target and spend hundreds of millions of pounds to help the war against the disease.

After delivering those promises in the last parliament, this announcement will see Britain step up its role in working to end the disease – and others that threaten pandemics that could hit Britain.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have announced they will partner with the UK in this work, and have welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement.

The £1 billion will include a £300 million package focused on malaria and other infectious diseases. This will include:

  • a £90 million eradication of malaria implementation fund
  • £100 million support for research and development into products for infectious diseases
  • £115 million to develop new drugs, diagnostics and insecticides for malaria, TB and other infectious disease resistance

It will also fund work to target diseases with epidemic potential, neglected tropical diseases, and diseases with emerging resistance.

Good progress has been made to stop the spread of malaria – malaria deaths have fallen by a third since 2010. But there is still more to do.

Commenting on today’s announcement, the Chancellor said:

I have always believed that our commitment to overseas aid is important to promote our national security and interests and around the world.

That includes the fight against malaria – something I’ve been committed to since 1997.

A staggering one billion people are infected with malaria and 500,000 children die from the parasite each year.

Eradicating malaria would save 11 million lives so today’s announcement of the £1 billion Ross Fund is an important step to help tackle this global disease.

Our commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on international aid means Britain can continue to play its part in the fight against malaria and working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help us in our joint ambition to see an end this global disease in our lifetimes.

Speaking in Seattle, Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said:

We are proud to be partnering with the Chancellor, the British people, and leading research institutes and universities around the UK in this endeavour to end malaria and combat neglected tropical diseases and future pandemics.

Britain has long been a world leader in the fight against global disease – from life-saving health technologies developed through cutting edge science in British labs, to the brave volunteers who deliver the treatments to those who need it most.

At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation we have a relentless focus on measurable outcomes and results that transform the lives of the world’s poorest people.

Together we invest in ways that keep all of us safe from the devastating effects of infectious diseases and epidemics.

Achieving the eradication of malaria and other poverty related infectious diseases will be one of humanity’s greatest achievements.

With the combined skill and expertise of British scientists; leveraging the weight of both public and private financing; and the continued leadership of George Osborne and the UK, today’s announcement of the Ross Fund will play a key role in reaching that goal.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

Across the world we are making great strides in the battle against deadly diseases - whether it’s Ebola, polio or malaria.

We can be proud of Britain’s contribution to this fight, but our work does not stop here.

Malaria still causes one in ten child deaths in Africa and costs the continent’s economies around £8 billion every year.

A healthy, prosperous world is in Britain’s interest and the prevention of deadly diseases is a smart investment.

That is why, working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Ross Fund, the UK will tackle resistance and develop drugs or insecticides to help bring an end to this terrible disease.

Published 22 November 2015