KIGALI and SEATTLE (June 23, 2022) – Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today announced a US$140 million commitment over four years in support of new initiatives and research directed by African institutions and leaders that accelerate progress toward ending malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and contribute to the continent’s COVID-19 recovery. French Gates made the announcement at the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases on the sidelines of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, alongside African heads of state and ministers and global dignitaries.
French Gates highlighted the remarkable progress Africans and their partners have made against preventable infectious diseases. “Over the past two decades, it has been inspiring to see the way leaders have come together to combat malaria and neglected tropical diseases,” said French Gates, who spoke at the Kigali Summit. “African government officials, health workers, advocates, and scientists have contributed to significant reductions in death and other impacts these diseases have on communities. Tremendous leadership and collaboration with multilateral organizations, donor countries, and pharmaceutical companies are saving lives and helping people live to their fullest potential.”
However, the rate of progress has slowed, prompting French Gates to call for renewed support to fight malaria and NTDs. She urged donors, the private sector, and affected country governments to increase investments to push back against these diseases and other health threats and to continue the development of vital innovations. This includes meeting the US$18 billion target for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which will hold its seventh replenishment conference later this year, and committing to the Kigali Declaration on NTDs, which was signed by global leaders at the Kigali Summit. Combined, these investments will lead to more resilient health systems and contribute to a more equitable world.
The Gates Foundation’s commitments announced today include:
- A US$140 million pledge over four years to further support the work of African institutions and organizations to drive rapid declines in malaria cases and deaths. This includes support for promising research and development around new, more effective treatments, interventions, and vector control tools. Funding will also go toward increased use of modeling and data that help community health workers better target interventions, as well as genomic disease monitoring systems that help countries track insecticide and drug resistance and address other emerging diseases. Lastly, the support will capitalize on the growing use of innovative financing through national End Malaria Councils and Funds.
- Support to establish the Mwele Malecela Mentorship Program for Women in NTDs in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). The initiative, which is named in memory of scientist and NTD advocate Mwele Malecela, will support at least 40 women in leveraging mentorship, leadership training, skill-building classes, and networking opportunities to overcome barriers and become leaders in NTD elimination by 2030. African women living in Africa who are mid-career in their work with NTDs will be eligible to apply beginning this year.
- The launch of Accelerate Resilient, Innovative, and Sustainable Elimination of NTDs (ARISE) in collaboration with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the ELMA Philanthropies. ARISE is a new philanthropic funding mechanism centered around country priorities and leadership. Specifically, it will support country-led efforts to scale up interventions and optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of NTD programs.
“Through renewed investments in malaria and NTDs, we can help end these endemic diseases, and prevent future pandemics by improving disease monitoring and strengthening the health systems that have driven decades of progress,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Malaria deaths have been cut in half since 2000, and hundreds of millions fewer people require treatment for NTDs compared to a decade ago. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed immense challenges to African communities. Despite heroic efforts by African countries to mitigate those challenges, there is a risk that progress will not continue without additional investments.
“The potential for a rapid decline in malaria deaths and cases is on the horizon,” said Philip Welkhoff, director of the Malaria Program at the Gates Foundation. “African countries are leading the way, and strong partnerships and increased funding are needed to increase access to life-saving tools and bring next-generation technologies and innovations over the finish line, to save more lives and end these diseases.”
The Kigali Declaration on NTDs calls on world leaders to increase political and financial commitments that support the WHO’s ambitious new 2030 roadmap on NTDs. Its signing comes 10 years after the Gates Foundation spearheaded the London Declaration on NTDs, which catalyzed a significant increase in funding, drug donations, advocacy, and expertise to end NTDs.
“Although NTDs continue to impact more than 1.7 billion people worldwide, these diseases are preventable and treatable,” said Katey Owen, director of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Gates Foundation, which spent approximately US$300 million in the last three years as part of its longstanding commitment to end NTDs. “By fostering women’s leadership and centering country priorities, we can beat NTDs and invest in the health and well-being of those most at risk to create a safer and more equal world.”
The Gates Foundation’s new commitments build on its history of supporting the continent in its efforts to create a more robust health and development ecosystem, including through partnerships with key regional bodies such as the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union, as well as African research institutes and African governments. The Gates Foundation has also backed the global partnership to eliminate NTDs since 2012 and has supported the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and other malaria programs for more than 20 years. This year marks 15 years since French Gates called for malaria eradication at the Global Malaria Forum.
About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman, under the direction of Co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates and the board of trustees.