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£1bn Ross Fund to tackle malaria scourge

Published 21/11/2015

The move is part of the Government's attempts to show Britain's legally-protected foreign aid budget is affecting issues that impact on the UK
The move is part of the Government's attempts to show Britain's legally-protected foreign aid budget is affecting issues that impact on the UK

Britain is to create a £1 billion fund to tackle malaria and other infectious diseases in the name of the pioneering British scientist who discovered it was transmitted by mosquitoes.

Chancellor George Osborne is to announce that the Ross Fund - which is backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - will also focus on diseases with epidemic potential such as Ebola which could threaten the UK.

Sir Ronald Ross made the ground-breaking discovery on malaria transmission while working in the Indian Medical Service, becoming the UK's first Nobel prize winner in 1902.

The initiative is part of an effort being made by the Government in this week's Spending Review to show that aid money - which is protected from public spending cuts - is being targeted at issues that directly affect Britain's national security.

David Cameron last week announced that at least half of the £12 billion budget - now guaranteed by law to be at least 0.7% of national wealth - will be devoted to fragile and failing states.

"I have always believed that our commitment to overseas aid is important to promote our national security and interests and around the world," Chancellor George Osborne said.

"A staggering one billion people are infected with malaria and 500,000 children die from the parasite each year.

"Eradicating malaria would save 11 million lives, so today's announcement of the £1 billion Ross Fund is an important step to help tackle this global disease.

"Our commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on international aid means Britain can continue to play its part in the fight against malaria, and working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help us in our joint ambition to see an end to this global disease in our lifetimes."

Of the fund, £305 million is focused on malaria and other infectious diseases such as TB, including the development of new drugs, diagnostics and insecticides.

Another £188 million will help tackle "diseases of epidemic potential" such as Ebola; £200 million will be spent on "neglected tropical diseases"; and £310 million will be targeted at "drug resistant infections".

Microsoft founder Gates - who with his wife Melinda has given away more than £25 billion through the Foundation - said: "We are proud to be partnering with the Chancellor, the British people, and leading research institutes and universities around the UK in this endeavour to end malaria and combat neglected tropical diseases and future pandemics.

"Achieving the eradication of malaria and other poverty-related infectious diseases will be one of humanity's greatest achievements.

"With the combined skill and expertise of British scientists; leveraging the weight of both public and private financing; and the continued leadership of George Osborne and the UK, today's announcement of the Ross Fund will play a key role in reaching that goal."

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