NEW ORLEANS — Philanthropist Bill Gates says he wants to end malaria in his lifetime and will give more money toward that goal, part of his broader fight against tropical diseases that are getting unusual public attention because of the Ebola epidemic.

In an interview with The Associated Press and in a speech Sunday at a global health conference in New Orleans, the Microsoft co-founder said his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would increase its malaria program budget by 30 percent, to more than $200 million per year. That’s on top of the foundation’s other donations to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Small steps won’t get the job done, and scientists don’t have all the tools they need to eradicate malaria, Gates said.

His plan includes developing a drug or vaccine to purge the malaria parasite in people who carry it without showing symptoms – a “human reservoir” that helps spread the disease.

“I really do believe that malaria can be eradicated in my lifetime,” said Gates, who just turned 59.

Here are some of his initiatives in the broader fight against tropical diseases.


Gates and his wife have pledged $50 million to help contain it and for research on treatments, rapid tests and vaccines. Another Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has pledged $100 million, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, $25 million.

The global response to Ebola initially stumbled and revealed flaws in our health systems, Gates said. Since then, some countries and groups have helped, but much more is needed, he said.

“We’re likely in the next several decades to have an epidemic that’s more transmissible than this Ebola epidemic,” so bolstering health systems in all countries and ensuring investment in drugs and vaccines is key, he said.


The disease kills more than 600,000 people each year, mostly children in Africa but also in Asia, Latin America and other areas. Efforts to control the disease, such as bed nets to prevent mosquito bites, must continue but “the only way to stop malaria is to end it forever,” Gates said.

His plan includes $156 million over five years to develop vaccines that prevent mosquitoes from infecting people and vice versa.


Gates called polio eradication “my top priority,” noting the viral disease remains endemic in three countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He cited progress: Polio was eliminated in India earlier this year, and as of early September, Nigeria had confirmed only six wild poliovirus cases this year. There is a good chance of getting the polio case count down to zero for the entire continent of Africa, he said.


The mosquito-borne disease, also known as breakbone fever for the pain it causes, has spread from a few countries a few decades ago to more than 100 today, including the southern United States.


Another mosquito-borne disease, chikungunya causes fever and extremely painful joints.

It spread to the Caribbean last year after expanding in Africa and South Asia, and in July, the first locally acquired case in the U.S. was documented in Florida. It’s an important field for research and vaccine development, Gates said.

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