Global Malaria R&D Funding Has Received Sustained Growth, Report Says

“Annual funding for research and development (R&D) in the fight against malaria has quadrupled over 16 years, generating the strongest pipeline of potential treatments in history, according to a report [.pdf] on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 6/28).

Funding for malaria R&D increased from $121 million in 1993 to $612 million in 2009, “with a particularly rapid increase since 2004,” according to a press release (.pdf) from the nonprofit research group Policy Cures, which authored the report. Roll Back Malaria, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative funded the report, according to the release.

“The report offers six key recommendations, among them a plea for better coordination among a greater number of funders from the public, philanthropic, and private sectors, and greater flexibility of public sector funding in particular” (6/28).

Despite the “sustained growth” in funding, experts cautioned against complacency, noting that gains could “quickly unravel if funding growth slows down,” Nature’s “News Blog” reports. “The overall upbeat picture doesn’t hold for all areas though, and diagnostics and vector-control in particular remain underfunded, attracting just 1% (US$23 million) and 4% (US$72 million) of research spending, respectively over the period 2004 to 2009 – compared with 23% for basic research ($455 million), 28% ($544 million) for vaccines and 38% ($752m) for drugs,” the blog reports (Butler, 6/28).

According to the report, “the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. National Institutes of Health provided half of the global malaria R&D funding between 2007 and 2009,” SciDev.Net writes (Axt, 6/28). “We’re hoping new donors will come along – it’s important to diversify,” said Awa Marie Coll-Seck, executive director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, IRIN reports (6/28). Coll-Seck discussed the findings of the report in a post on the ONE blog, noting that the report “demonstrates that malaria is no longer the neglected step-child of disease R&D that it was less than 20 years ago.”

“But let’s not mistake progress with victory. … During this decade, donors need to maintain and modestly increase their funding – from the 2009 level of US$612 million to US$690 million – between now and 2015, with a 15 percent surge around 2016 to get the most promising innovations through the final stages of clinical development,” she writes (6/28).

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