Global leaders seek to reignite fight against malaria

NEW YORK- SEPTEMBER 20 Bill Gates listens to former U.S. President Barack Obama answer questions at the Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers event

In front of an audience expected to include Microsoft founder, philanthropist and anti-malaria campaigner Bill Gates, she is also expected to urge leaders from the bloc's 53 nations to work to halve the number of those afflicted by 2023.

She will say: "Across the Commonwealth, tens of millions of young people - usually but not always girls - are denied the education that would allow them to get on in life".

This summit comes of the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting because the Commonwealth and its citizens account for more than half of all global cases and deaths, but just one third of the world's population.

They add that at the summit, government leaders, business and philanthropic and worldwide organisations will together pledge support "to drive innovation, cutting-edge research, better data and increased access to life-saving malaria interventions".

"To defeat an infectious disease like malaria you have to hit it hard - and you have to keep hitting it until it's gone", said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund.

"Thousands of scientists from more than 70 countries. will gather to share the latest research in the fight against malaria and discuss best practices moving forward to end the epidemic for good", said the organisers of the London summit, ahead of that gathering.

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Pharmaceutical firms GSK and Novartis also increased investment into malaria research and development - of £175 million ($250 million) and US$100 million (RM390 million) respectively, and five agrichemical companies launched a joint initiative to speed up development of new ways to control mosquitoes.

The London summit will also be co-hosted by the governments of Rwanda, Swaziland and Britain. "We have made a major contribution to that progress, including investing £500m each year over the next three years, developing new drugs and technologies and making life-saving solutions available to millions at risk from malaria". "And we, as a Commonwealth, have a particular duty to tackle it".

Bill Gates has warned Commonwealth leaders that the fight against malaria could "go backwards" without innovation and long-term funding.

Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who are co-convening the Malaria Summit, said: "History has shown that with malaria there is no standing still - we move forward or risk resurgence". In India, Odisha is the biggest victim of malaria constituting close to 41 per cent of India's malaria incidence as of 2016, the NGO said in a statement. The funding will go into research, data tools and malaria interventions.

He said: "Who knows what natural plants or predators we may need to call upon in future if we are to be successful in preventing and treating malaria?" "We hope today marks a turning point against the disease, and that the Commonwealth takes a leading role in saving lives and ending malaria for good".

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