RWANDA – Global leaders led by African Heads of State have announced the first in a series of pledges totaling US$4 billion to accelerate progress against Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) at the historic Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs.

Hosted by His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, the Kigali Summit featured commitments totaling more than $US4 billion including funding from governments, international organizations, philanthropists, and private sector support.

In addition, 18 billion tablets have been donated by pharmaceutical companies for preventing and treating NTDs.

This was the first ever joint Malaria and NTDs summit with Heads of State hosted on the African continent.

Achieving a healthier and safer world that is free from Malaria and NTDs requires new investments, strategic partnerships across different sectors data-driven and tailored use of current tools and increased investment in disease surveillance and early warning systems

Malaria and NTDs affected countries committed over US$2.2 billion in domestic resources towards ending these diseases.

Endemic countries leading by action

Endemic countries delivered robust pledges at the Summit to demonstrate leadership and action to accelerate progress towards eliminating these diseases by 2030 and galvanize political will.

In response to the urgent threat of a resurgence in Malaria and NTDs made worse by a plateauing of funding, biological challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic, following many years of progress

Malaria and NTDs affected countries committed over US$2.2 billion in domestic resources towards ending these diseases.

These commitments were made in the context of both the Kigali Declaration for NTDs, and a signal of further enhanced domestic resource commitments for Malaria at the forthcoming Global Fund Replenishment.

His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda said: “Ensuring that all African countries mobilize the domestic financial resources required for quality healthcare, is a priority for the African Union, and our partners.

“If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is that together, through coordinated and collaborative action, we can achieve much more.”

Countries called on other global leaders to join them and demonstrate their support by endorsing and committing resources to the Kigali Declaration on NTDs and mobilizing at least US$18 billion for the Malaria response.

Overwhelming support from the private sector

Private sector organizations made a range of commitments encompassing increased research funding, enhancing local manufacturing capacity including from BioNTech to produce new generation vaccines locally leveraging mRNA technology.

The private sector also committed to support for regional initiatives (such as Goodbye Malaria), new safe, accessible diagnostics for NTDs such as snakebite envenoming and more than 18 billion tablets were donated to NTDs by nine pharmaceutical companies.

Pfizer made a ground-breaking commitment to extend its antibiotic donation program through 2030, enabling continued trachoma elimination programs in more than 19 countries globally.

GSK reaffirmed its commitment to donate albendazole until elimination of lymphatic filariasis, extend its soil transmitted helminths (STH) donation to include pre-school children and include a third disease on the WHO’s 2030 NTDs Roadmap, echinococcosis.

GSK also committed to invest £1 billion (US$1.2 billion) in R&D over the next decade to get ahead of high burden infectious diseases that disproportionately impact LMICs to ensure that no one is left behind.

Novartis is investing US$250 million to advance R&D into new treatments to combat NTDs and Malaria, including US$100 million to advance R&D of its NTD programme, focusing on novel drug candidates for four diseases, and US$150 million for next generation antimalarials.

The Wellcome Trust committed to delivering £80 million (US$98.3 million) worth of funding towards research on snakebite envenoming treatment.

Biopharmaceutical company BioNTech announced plans to deliver a highly effective vaccine based on its proprietary mRNA technology for the prevention of Malaria and disease-associated mortality, with the clinical trial for the first Malaria vaccine candidates to start by the end of 2022.

Further support for Malaria and NTDs programs was also delivered by philanthropic foundations and funds, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Melinda French Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, highlighted the remarkable progress Africans and their partners have made against preventable infectious diseases.

Over the past two decades, it has been inspiring to see the way leaders have come together to combat Malaria and neglected tropical diseases,” said French Gates, who spoke at the Kigali Summit.

Progress against Malaria and NTDs has stalled in recent years and even reversed in some countries due to a plateauing of funding, rapidly increasing population and widespread insecticide resistance alongside the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

This has disrupted health programs including essential services and supply chains that have put further strain on the fight against Malaria.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “Malaria has afflicted humanity for millennia, but in the past 20 years we have made huge gains, saving many lives. Those gains are now at risk.”

The announcements made at the Kigali Summit are expected to make a significant contribution to saving the lives and livelihoods of billions of people around the world at risk from these preventable and treatable diseases.

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