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Defeating malaria can boost African economies by almost $16bn a year

A new report calls on governments, ahead of the G7 meeting, to accelerate the fight against malaria to save lives, unlock prosperity and bolster health security.

African countries could see their GDP increase by $127 billion if the UN target to cut malaria by 90% from 2015 levels by 2030 is met, according to a new report titled ‘The Malaria Dividend’ from Malaria No More UK. This would translate to an average annual boost of nearly $16 billion, amounting to more than 10% of what all countries on the continent spend on healthcare in a year. The research also indicates that achieving this goal could generate an additional $31 billion in exports for some of the most affected countries in Africa.

Countries like Nigeria could experience a GDP boost of almost $35 billion between 2023-2030, while Kenya and Angola could see increases of about $9 billion, largely due to the size of their economies and the high prevalence of the disease.

“Increasing investments towards ending the disease will save millions of lives and grow African economies by boosting trade and tourism. This will have knock-on benefits for G7 countries and enhance trade between African countries,” says Sherwin Charles, CEO of Goodbye Malaria.

This economic dividend could be used to further strengthen the health sector through enhanced diagnostic capacity, a larger healthcare workforce, and stronger primary healthcare infrastructure.

The report highlights that reducing the disease will bring widespread benefits, making the world a safer and more prosperous place for everyone.

These figures provide additional rationale for G7 countries, as key supporters of malaria interventions, to continue investing in efforts to eradicate the disease. Achieving the UN SDG goal on the disease could generate an additional $4 billion in exports for G7 countries, with almost $1.5 billion for the US and more than $450 million for the UK.

Dr Astrid Bonfield, CEO of Malaria No More UK, states, “The rise in global trade with African countries also helps other nations keep the disease at bay by sustaining malaria research and development, funding, and continuing to invest in life sciences to tackle other infectious diseases.”

Malaria’s Brutal Impact on Children and Economies

Malaria currently claims over 600,000 lives annually. The World Health Organization estimates that interventions on the disease have prevented 2 billion cases and nearly 12 million deaths between 2000 and 2022.

While children represent around three-quarters of global malaria deaths, infections also impact working-age people, constraining economic growth through employee absenteeism, diminished income, reduced income tax, and additional healthcare costs.

Children suffering from the disease frequently miss school, hindering their educational progress and eventual economic contribution, while also placing a burden on healthcare services and the parents caring for them.

Charles emphasizes, “Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease that needlessly costs lives and holds back social and economic progress in endemic countries.” He believes that “G7 nations and malaria-endemic countries should work hand-in-hand to drive greater investment in tackling malaria through domestic funding and a fully funded GAVI and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.”

Why G7 Partnerships Are Crucial to Fighting Malaria

The report is released ahead of the G7 Summit hosted in Italy on June 13-15. Under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s leadership, partnerships that stimulate economic growth in Africa, including investments in the continent’s health systems, have been prioritized.

The G7 has established global health initiatives such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which increases access to vaccines, and The Global Fund, critical to combating the disease through increased access to tools and treatments.

For the first time, Gavi will have two effective malaria vaccinations available for its next investment case due to launch on June 20.

Accompanied by tools such as next-generation bed nets, these vaccines will play an important role in revitalizing the fight against the disease, which has stalled in recent years.

Despite substantial upfront costs, the benefits of achieving our goals far outweigh the expenses. With the right investment, appropriate malaria control strategies can be implemented worldwide to boost economies and save lives.

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