malaria

The UK Government has announced a £1bn scheme called the Ross Fund, aimed at supporting the global fight against malaria and other infectious diseases.

Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ross Fund will also focus on diseases with epidemic potential such as Ebola.

The fund is named after Sir Ronald Ross who became the UK’s first Nobel Prize winner for his discovery that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes.

The initiative is part of the government’s effort made at this week’s spending review to show that aid budget is being targeted at issues that directly affect the UK’s national security.

During a visit to Uganda, UK Chancellor George Osborne promised to meet the 0.7% ODA target and invest money to help the fight against the disease.

The £1bn will include a £305m package focused on combatting malaria and other infections.

Osborne 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 £1bn 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."

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

The package will include a £90m eradication of malaria implementation fund, £100m support for research and development into products for infectious diseases and £115m to develop new drugs, diagnostics and insecticides for malaria, TB and other infectious disease resistance.

The fund will also be used to target diseases with epidemic potential, neglected tropical diseases, and diseases with emerging resistance.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates 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.

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

Malaria is most commonly transmitted by an infected female Anopheles mosquito.


Image: An Anopheles stephensi mosquito shortly after obtaining blood from a human. Photo: courtesy of Jim Gathany.