Bill Gates Funds New Malaria Centre in Dar es
A major new centre to undertake research for a malaria
vaccine is to be built in Tanzania, thanks to a grant from Bill Gates
to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The centre, which will probably be built in Dar es Salaam, is one of
the three due to be built in east, south and west Africa.
It will feature a major training centre with top of the range
computer facilities and teaching tools that will include workshops
for malaria control.
The London school, which is renowned in its field, has been working
with the Tanzanian government on the issue ever since it was
announced that Bill Gates' Microsoft Foundation had given it a $40
million donation to try and roll back the disease, which kills about
three million people a year, most of whom are in Africa.
Professor Elcanor Riley from the London school told The EastAfrican
that work would also be conducted with the Kilimanjaro Christian
Medical Centre at Moshi and that over the next few years Tanzania
could become a major international centre for field trials for
potential new vaccines.
Prof Riley said that indiscriminate use of anti-malarials has already
developed into widespread drug resistance.
The donation from Mr. Gates was part of his pledge to use around
Pounds15 million ($24 million) for education and eradicating diseases
in the developing world.
Ironically, the grant came as a result of a routine letter sent to
the Gates Foundation last year asking for several million pounds for
malaria research and was one of the thousands of such requests it
"We just fired it off into the blue," Prof Brian Greenwood of the
London school told the Times. "We weren't that surprised when it went
However, last April, Prof Greenwood received an e-mail asking him to
dispense with the conventional application process and write a
10-page letter of intent instead.
The result was a Pounds26 million ($41.6 million) grant, one of the
biggest research grants ever to be received by an institution in the
"We are delighted but now the big responsibility is to spend it
wisely," Professor Greenwood said.
The need for a vaccine in Africa is crucial as it is estimated the
continent spends around Pounds1.2 billion ($1.9 billion) a year. With
prophylactics proving increasingly ineffective, a new vaccine against
malaria is becoming more and more vital.
Meanwhile, the establishment of the malaria vaccine trial centre in
Tanzania will bring to two the major medical research institutions
working on malaria in East Africa, the other being the Kenya Medical
Whereas the Tanzania centre will, however, concentrate on vaccine
development, Kemri's focus is on environmental and therapeutic
control of the disease, by encouraging the use of impregnated bed
Last year, a 115- page report by Britain's Wellcome Trust titled
Malaria Research Capacity in Africa identified Kemri as one of the
three leading centres for malaria research in Africa.
The report also identified Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and the Gambia as
the four leading countries on the continent in malaria research
between 1995 and 1997, with each country's researchers publishing
more than 50 papers on malaria in internationally reputed medical
The report, however, said that malaria research in Africa was
hampered by lack of resources, with "88 per cent of research grants
to African laboratories between 1993 and 1998 coming from
organisations outside Africa."
The most frequently acknowledged financiers, the report said, were
the UNDP, World Bank, the World Health Organisation's special
programme for research and training in tropical diseases, the
Wellcome Trust itself, Kemri, and the UK Medical Research Council.
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