Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill, Gates, business leaders and ministers from donor and malaria-affected countries are doing their best to improve access to malaria prevention and treatments. 

The have pledged 2.7 billion pounds (3.8 billion dollars) to drive research and innovation that will help achieve this. 

Following the renewed action and funding pledge, experts have expressed the belief that it could save 650,000 lives across commonwealth countries and prevent 350 million cases of the disease in the next five years.

But Gates and other leaders are warning that there must not be any complacency in fighting malaria – a disease which kills around half a million people, mainly babies and young children, each year.

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According to the WHO, while enormous progress has been made over the past 20 years in reducing malaria cases and deaths, in 2016, for the first time in a decade, the number of malaria cases were on the rise and in some areas there was a resurgence.

The disease’s stubbornness is partly due to the mosquito that transmits the disease and the parasite that causes it developing resistance to the sprays and drugs used to fight them, health experts say.

It is also partly due to stagnant global funding for malaria since 2010. Climate change and conflict also exacerbate malaria outbreaks.

“History has shown that with malaria there is no standing still – we move forward or risk resurgence,” Gates said in a statement ahead of a “Malaria Summit” in London on Wednesday.

His multi-billion-dollar philanthropic fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is co-convening the summit, pledged an extra one billion dollars through to 2023 to fund malaria research and development to try to end malaria for good.

Gates said: “It’s a disease that is preventable, treatable and ultimately beatable, but progress against malaria is not inevitable.

“We hope today marks a turning point”.

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The malaria summit was designed to coincide with a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London this week.

The 53 Commonwealth countries, mostly former British colonies, are disproportionately affected by malaria – accounting for more than half of all global cases and deaths although they are home to just a third of the world’s population.

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