UK to set up $1 billion fund to fight malaria

The UK government plans to create a new £1 billion fund aimed at eradicating malaria and other infectious diseases. The Ross Fund would be run in partnership with US philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates.

It takes its name from Sir Ronald Ross who became the UK's first Nobel Prize winner in 1902 for his discovery that mosquitoes transmitted malaria.

While the number of people dying from malaria was falling, a child still died from the disease every minute in Africa.

According to ministers, the partnership with the Microsoft founder and his wife Melinda marked a "fundamental restructuring" of the UK's aid budget.

The funds would come from the UK's overseas aid budget over the next five years.

Of the £1 billion, £115 million was set aside for research into new drugs, diagnostics and insecticides for fending off the threat of malaria, TB and other infectious diseases, with a further £188 million to be spent on improving biodefences and rapid response systems to fast-spreading epidemics such as Ebola.

According to chancellor George Osborne, 500,000 children died from the disease each year.
He added, government's commitment to overseas aid helped to "promote our national security and interests around the world".

The collaboration formed part of a wider overhaul of the foreign aid budget set to be unveiled by the chancellor in his Spending Review on Wednesday. He wants more spending on programmes which could be shown to benefit the UK - targeting diseases which threatened global pandemics.

''I have always believed that our commitment to overseas aid is important to promote our national security and interests around the world. That includes the fight against malaria - something I've been committed to since 1997,'' the chancellor said.

''The announcement of the £1bn Ross Fund is an important step to help tackle this global disease,'' he added.