Global Push to Eradicate Malaria Boosted by $29M Grant to Malaria Elimination Initiative

By Laura Kurtzman

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded UC San Francisco’s Global Health Group’s Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) a four-year grant of $29 million to accelerate malaria elimination in Asia Pacific and Southern Africa and advance malaria eradication globally.

map showing current state of malaria eradication in 2016
Click image to visit "Shrinking the Malaria Map," a website tracking global progress in eradicating malaria by 2040.

Since the call by Bill and Melinda Gates in 2007 for malaria eradication, their foundation has invested $40 million in the MEI to push the boundaries in malaria elimination. These investments have resulted in a global consensus tipping point that affirms that malaria elimination is both feasible and necessary, and have created country-led platforms to eliminate malaria regionally.

This year, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, and the whole European region have been declared malaria free by the World Health Organization. Nearly 30 countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East will eliminate malaria in the next five years, according to MEI projections. However, the remaining malaria-endemic countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East require evidence-based tools to reduce malaria cases to zero and prevent resurgence.

“Despite significant gains in malaria control, the disease remains a huge problem globally. The World Health Organization estimates that there were more than 200 million new cases of malaria worldwide, and more than 400,000 people died from the disease in 2015,” said Sir Richard Feachem, KBE, FREng, DSc(Med), PhD, who directs the Global Health Group at UCSF’s Global Health Sciences. “This reinvestment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will enable UCSF and our partners to create an engineered future of rapid regional elimination to achieve a world free of malaria within a generation.”

Richard Feachem
Richard Feachem, KBE, FREng, DSc(Med), PhD

Over the next four years, the MEI will bolster efforts to shrink the malaria map in Asia Pacific and Southern Africa. Through partnership with national malaria programs, the MEI will develop and test new tools for diagnosis, surveillance, and vector control, and build the financial and political commitment required to achieve and sustain zero malaria.

“The Foundation’s generous investment will enable the Malaria Elimination Initiative to bring to bear the research, tools, and approaches developed over the past nine years to accelerate progress on the ground and reach critical malaria elimination targets, particularly in Asia Pacific and Southern Africa,” said Roly Gosling, MD, PhD, UCSF associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and lead and co-principal investigator of the Malaria Elimination Initiative.

Given the progress in reducing the malaria burden globally in the last 15 years, the MEI will strengthen the evidence base – addressing gaps in the research agenda, drawing on evolutionary biology, other disease eradication efforts, land use patterns, and economics, among other fields – and consensus on the key scientific, operational and financial requirements to achieve global malaria eradication – a goal that is within reach but will require focus, additional resources, and decisive action. 

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, and other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area.

About the Malaria Elimination Initiative: The Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Global Health Group believes a malaria-free world is possible within a generation. As a forward-thinking partner to malaria-eliminating countries and regions, the MEI generates evidence, develops new tools and approaches, documents and disseminates elimination experiences, and builds consensus to shrink the malaria map. With support from the MEI’s highly-skilled team, countries around the world are actively working to eliminate malaria—a goal that nearly 30 countries will achieve by 2020. For more information about our impact, visit