Ending malaria: We're not spending enough, or evenly enough

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As Jacqueline Novogratz says in her 2005 TEDTalk: “You can’t talk about poverty today without talking about malaria bednets.”

Yesterday, the Guardian UK reported on a massive new study of malaria preventionwhich found several alarming gaps in the global drive to wipe out this disease, especially in the poorest countries. Read the study’s press release here. From the Guardian story:

The analysis found that the global spend on malaria prevention of around $1bn per year would need to increase by between 50% and 450% to achieve the goal. But the study also found that funding was not spread evenly, with some countries receiving far less per person at risk of the disease than others.

“What we have done in this paper is try to estimate how much money is awarded to countries according to how many people live at risk,” said Prof. Robert Snow at the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Nairobi, “What we can say at this stage is there isn’t enough for a minimum package of interventions … They are often getting much less than a dollar per person at risk and we know that you need at a bare minimum $4.”

The study analyzed spending on malaria control (like insecticides and anti-malarial bednets) by big donors such as the World Bank and the US President’s Initiative — and compared it to the number of people in each country who are at risk of infection by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

Novogratz talks about malaria bednets again in her 2007 TEDTalk — and suggests another piece of this puzzle: How can the money we spend on malaria also help to build stronger economies in poorer countries?