Gates Foundation hosts Malaria Forum

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will host a three day invitation-only Malaria Forum this week that includes a lineup of top global health leaders from around the world.
The event will include speakers such as the director general of the World Health Organization, key drug-industry officials and leaders of private and public malaria programs in countries from Kenya to Zanzibar, the Seattle Times reports.
"Malaria is an extremely complex disease that has been causing deaths and social disruption since the beginning of recorded human history," Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO's director-general, said last year, according to the Seattle Times. "This is a disease that can take full advantage of any lapse in investment, vigilance or control."
The foundation issued a call for the eradication of malaria at its first Malaria Forum in Seattle in 2007 and it has invested $1.5 billion and committed $260 million more to the endeavor.
"It's a real grand challenge," Stefan Kappe, a malaria-vaccine researcher at Seattle BioMed, said, according to the Seattle Times. "It's probably more difficult than sending someone to the moon."
According to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, malaria deaths have dropped by 38 percent in the past decade by using bed nets, diagnostics, treatment drugs and insecticides. The RTS,S malaria vaccine is now in the final stages of testing in over 15,000 children in Africa. It was 50 percent effective in earlier tests.

Researchers are now experimenting with vaccines that approach from every angle, including a transmission-blocking vaccine that would stop mosquitoes from infecting others.
While there is excitement at the successes, one of the major issues in the fight against malaria is raising enough money for proper research and development.
"Quite frankly, I think we're all concerned about whether the public financing from major donor countries and even from the endemic countries — which have to put their own resources in — can continue at the level that's needed," Dr. David Brandling-Bennett, the deputy director of the malaria program at the Gates Foundation, said, according to the Seattle Times. "We need the developed world, the industrialized world, to continue its commitments."