Global funding for malaria research has increased four-fold in the last 16 years

A new report has found that annual global funding for malaria research and development has increased four-fold in the last 16 years.

Annual funding in malaria research increased from $121 million in 1993 to $612 million in 2009, creating what many experts consider to be the strongest pipeline of malaria control and prevention products in history.

The report, "Staying the Course? Malaria Research and Development in a Time of Economic Uncertainty," was issued by Policy Cures, a non-profit research group. The report received funding from several malaria product development partnerships and was published by the global health nonprofit PATH and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.

There are more than four dozen products in today’s malaria product pipeline, an almost 17-fold increase since 2001. There are dozens of vaccines in late-stage development, a number of new active ingredients in insecticides for mosquito control and a new generation of simple, rapid and effective, diagnostic tests.

"In the coming years, the fruits of this unprecedented investment in malaria research and development could save hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives," Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, the executive director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, said. "This robust product pipeline gives us hope that eradication of malaria is possible. Backpedaling on R&D funding now, when so many innovations are in the pipeline, would be a foolish waste of a historic opportunity."

The analysis warns that any declines in funding could slow drug development at a time when new products are need to combat Plasmodium vivax malaria and the emerging problem of resistance to artemisinin, the key compound in the most effective treatments currently used.

The report notes that research and development funding for malaria is highly concentrated. Funding from fewer than a dozen governments accounted for almost half of total malaria funding in 2009. Alone, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was responsible for a quarter of the funding available that year and was also the single largest donor, giving $184 million. The United States government was the second largest individual donor in 2009, giving $165 million.