The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world. On Friday, in Davos, Switzerland, it lived up to its credo.
There were more than 400 sessions from January 17-20 with topics like environmental protection, gender equality, globalization, and the refugee crisis. In addition to these worthwhile issues, those in attendance also vowed to stop malaria, a disease that had 212 million cases in 2015.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ray Chambers, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Health in Agenda 2030 and for Malaria, have convened the End Malaria Council, “a committed group of global public sector and business leaders that sees malaria eradication as a critical health and development priority.”
The Council’s website states the nine inaugural members, chosen by Gates and Chambers, “represent public and private sectors from both malaria-infected regions and donor countries.” Read about them here.
Council members will serve three-year renewable terms and meet as a group twice a year. The Roll Back Malaria Partnership and Malaria No More will collaborate with the council in supporting rolls.
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According to a fact sheet on the World Health Organization website:
“Between 2010 and 2015, malaria incidence among populations at risk (the rate of new cases) fell by 21% globally. In that same period, malaria mortality rates among populations at risk fell by 29% globally among all age groups, and by 35% among children under 5.”
Nevertheless, “In 2015, nearly half of the world’s population was at risk of malaria. Most malaria cases and deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa [92%]. However, South-East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, are also at risk.”
The greatest obstacle to eradicating the disease is the development of resistance among parasites and mosquitoes to malarial medicines and insecticides, respectively.
This isn’t the first time Bill Gates has fought malaria. In 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation prioritized fighting the disease by adopting a strategy called Accelerate to Zero. The effort essentially focuses on the source of the problem by removing malaria-causing parasites rather than simply impeding human-to-human transition, and by addressing breakouts on a local level.
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Gates’ latest brainchild, the End Malaria Council, seeks to wipe out the disease in those remaining regions by keeping malaria eradication high on the global agenda, ensuring funds are raised to maintain and continue the progress that has been achieved, and to develop new technologies that can end the disease for good.
“For the first time in history, we have a roadmap to a world without malaria – where no one has to die from a mosquito bite ever again,” said Gates. “With renewed focus, innovation and new commitments of leadership and funding, we can be the generation to end malaria once and for all.”
By James O’Hare