In Seattle today, 250 leaders in the malaria space interacted at the first ever Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Malaria Forum. Leadership from vaccine research, drug research, vector control, social mobilization and advocacy were convened by the Gates Foundation to share successes, ideas and frustrations in the road towards a significant reduction in malaria morbidity and mortality. Regina Rabinovich, Director of Infectious Diseases Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, opened the forum with a focus on great opportunity to build on progress and an elusive tool called momentum.
The theme of the Forum is Collaboration, Innovation, and Impact. It is certainly innovative to have researchers, scientists, development workers, fundraisers and advocates engaged in the same conversations.Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, announced a study released today with Roll Back Malaria exhibiting new facts and figures for malaria. Good news? Yes, malaria rates are down, the Global Fund has increased malaria funding by 10 times, long-lasting insecticide-treated nets are reducing deaths for children under five, four new ACT’s are about to come on the market and vaccine research is taking place with eight candidates.
At the same time, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Chair of Roll Back Malaria and Minister of Health of Ethiopia stated, “While it is a success that companies manufactured 63 million nets, it is a continued problem that only 43 million were procured.”
For this reason, Nothing But Nets, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, was highlighted by Regina Rabinovich. She pointed out the importance of new partners such as the NBA, Major League Soccer, the United Methodist Church and Lutheran World relief to the increase of funding for coverage — and to meet a world wide goal of 80% coverage.
To sum up the day, I would like to highlight a final quote: Regina Rabinovich, “A malaria death in a family is a catastrophe, put all those deaths together — it is an unacceptable global calamity.”