1 Jan 2012

Staying the Course? Malaria Research and Development in a Time of Economic Uncertainty is a new technical report from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership—authored by Australia-based Policy Cures and commissioned by MVI—that shines a spotlight on recent trends in investments in malaria research and development (R&D).

Following up on a 2005 study by the Malaria R&D Alliance to establish a baseline of global investment for malaria R&D—and using even better and more complete data—this new report charts the global community’s progress toward goals laid out in the 2008 Global Malaria Action Plan.

2011 report finds clear gains…but also caveats

According to the new report, malaria R&D is no longer grossly underfunded. Ground-shifting advances have moved the dial toward elimination and possibly eradication. But these gains are fragile. Without continued, modest increases in funding in the next few years, this progress could be reversed. Other findings of the report include:

  • A new analysis of progress in the global fight against malaria finds a more than four-fold increase in funding for malaria research and development in just 16 years—increasing from US$121 million in 1993 to US$612 million in 2009, with a particularly rapid increase since 2004. The funding has generated the strongest pipeline of malaria control and prevention products in history. However, malaria R&D funding needs to increase modestly for the next five to six years (2 percent per year until 2015, with a 15 percent spike around 2016) and can then begin to decrease. Even a small decline in funding in the next five to six years could jeopardize this pipeline and paradoxically also increase development costs later.
  • Malaria R&D funding is highly concentrated, yet not always well coordinated. Funding must be better distributed between product areas. A high percentage of the proposed funding increase should be used to support the severely underfunded diagnostic and vector-control areas, and greater funds must be dedicated to product development targeting Plasmodium vivax malaria.
  • R&D funding, particularly in the public sector, must be more flexible and responsive to global portfolio developments and goals.
  • More funders need to become engaged in malaria R&D, including more economically advanced countries as well as research groups and science and technology agencies in both existing and new donor countries.
  • Funding for product development partnerships (PDPs) should be maintained, since PDPs account for nearly half of the current product pipeline and virtually all new malaria products delivered in the past five years.
  • Annual funding levels for vaccine development are viewed as adequate for the moment, but efforts to develop a second generation of more effective vaccines, a vaccine against P. vivax malaria, and transmission-blocking vaccines will require a boost in investments from 2016 onward.

Staying the Course? Malaria Research and Development in a Time of Economic Uncertainty will be launched on June 28, 2011 in London and on June 30, 2011 in Washington, DC.