Malaria Summit appeals to Commonwealth for help

Theresa May wants to help a million girls living in developing Commonwealth nations go to school for longer

Climate change and conflict can also exacerbate malaria outbreaks.

May's government is looking to reinvigorate the Commonwealth, a 53-country network of mostly former British colonies, as it seeks to define its post-Brexit role in the world as a leader of free trade and active global citizen.

Today the Prime Minister supported the pledge to halve malaria in the next five years and re-affirmed the government's commitment in 2016 to spend £500 million a year on malaria for five years. One child dies every two minutes from the disease. While overall rates of infection have dropped 60% since 2000, the number of malaria cases rose in 2016 for the first time in a decade.

The disease's stubbornness is partly due to the mosquito that transmits the disease and the parasite that causes it developing resistance to the sprays and drugs used to fight them, health experts say. Today's commitments focus on three important areas to fight resurgence of the disease.

Pharmaceutical firms GSK and Novartis also increased investment into malaria research and development - of 175 million pounds ($250 million) and $100 million dollars respectively.

In September 2016 DFID announced the United Kingdom pledge of £1.1 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria over the next three years.

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

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BETTER DATA DRIVEN SOLUTIONS Knowing where and when to target malaria interventions is critical to accelerate progress and help prevent resurgence.

Bill Gates told Commonwealth leaders in London people had to "get smarter" to combat malaria. "We aren't completely there on this better surveillance, but we are making progress".

"But the job is not yet done". This year the Department for International Development will launch a new £50 million programme to push for further malaria control in the country. "And we, as a Commonwealth, have a particular duty to tackle it". "We will support and incentivise others to invest in what is needed, from cutting edge research to ensuring access to malaria treatment and prevention for those most at risk".

"History has shown that with malaria there is no standing still - we move forward or risk resurgence", Gates said in a statement ahead of a Malaria Summit in London on Wednesday.

As part of our £500m a year commitment on malaria, today we are announcing a £100 million investment in malaria. In Sub-Saharan Africa, malaria is the top reason for children missing school. Rwanda is one of the countries experiencing a rise in malaria cases.

A commitment by leaders to halve malaria in the Commonwealth would help drive dramatic progress in the next five years, putting the world back on track to end malaria for good.

Bill Gates, chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - which announced it will extend its investments in malaria by an additional £700m through to 2023 - said he hoped the summit would mark a turning point in tackling the disease. "The coming together of governments, the private sector, philanthropists and NGOs demonstrates the determination to beat malaria". Gates said 90 percent of people living in the Commonwealth were at risk of catching malaria.

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