The British government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have committed a total of £3 billion ($4.3 billion) over five years in support of research aimed at expediting the eradication of malaria, Newsweek reports.
Originally announced by British chancellor George Osborne and Gates Foundation founder Bill Gates in the Times of London, the commitments — £500 million ($713 million) a year until at least 2020 from Britain and £185 million $200 million a year from the Gates Foundation — will expand the Ross Fund, established last fall and named for British scientist Sir Ronald Ross, who won a Nobel Prize in 1902 for proving that mosquitoes spread malaria. According to the World Health Organization, the 214 million cases of malaria recorded in 2015 resulted in an estimated 438,000 deaths, with 91 percent occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. An October 2015 report by WHO and UNICEF found, however, that death rates from malaria have fallen by 60 percent over the past fifteen years, while recent scientific advances have demonstrated that genetically modified mosquitoes could be used to halt the spread of malaria in regions where the disease is endemic.
"If new insecticides are not introduced by 2020, the situation will become critical and deaths could surge," said Osborne and Gates. "We are optimistic that in our lifetimes we can eradicate malaria and other deadly tropical diseases, and confront emerging threats, making the world a safer place for all."