19 Jun 2018

New report highlights a ‘second valley of death’ that threatens to keep developed malaria products from reaching those most in need 

A new report, Bridging the gaps in malaria R&D: An analysis of funding—from basic research and product development to research for implementation, shows that funding for basic research and product development falls short of the need.

The report combines regularly reported data on funding for these elements of malaria research and development (R&D) with original research on funding levels and organizational commitments to the research required to improve access to products. This research for implementation included implementation research, operational research, and health systems research.

In the accompanying press release, David C. Kaslow, MD, Vice President of Essential Medicines at PATH, said, “Right now, annual investments in basic research and product development for malaria are about US $100 million less than what is required to meet funding targets. We see evidence of this shortfall across malaria R&D. In addition to that gap, however, we now face a ‘second valley of death’—not enough resources to move products through development, all the way to impact.”

Investments in basic research and product development (i.e., excluding research for implementation)  falls short of the targets identified in WHO’s <em>Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030</em>.

The report spotlights the results of a pilot survey of leading funders of malaria R&D covering a three-year period, 2014–2016. It found that research for implementation comprised 16% of total average annual malaria R&D investments of $673 million, averaging $107 million annually.

As the foreword to the publication states, the timing of this report could not be more critical. Progress against malaria has recently flatlined, and in some areas, malaria cases are on the rise. This is a threat to more than a decade of progress and investments in the global fight against malaria—and to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Valuable tools have been developed, and more are on the way, but lagging behind are the systems to ensure that they are implemented, used appropriately, and easily accessible to everyone in need.

The report includes six case studies on research for implementation:

Case study 1: Drug packaging increases access to malaria treatment

Case study 2: Reducing deaths with bednets

Case study 3: Two approaches to managing fever, a symptom shared by three diseases—malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea

Case study 4: Ensuring appropriate health care use during malaria vaccine introduction

Case study 5: Reaching malaria elimination through strengthened national research capacity

Case study 6: Increasing access to new insecticidal products