Theo Clarke: Phenomenal Progress: The UK’s pivotal role in turning the tide against malaria

Theo Clarke is Director of Conservative Friends of International Development and leads the Conservative Party's international social action project in Africa. She blogs ahead of World Malaria Day:

"Almost exactly a year ago the UK Government made a landmark commitment to fight malaria, pledging £500 million a year to 2020.

To mark this anniversary, the organisation Malaria No More has produced Phenomenal Progress: The UK’s pivotal role in turning the tide against malaria, a briefing to highlight the incredible impact that this commitment is delivering.

THe Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel has demonstrated the Government’s continuing leadership on this issue, pledging £1.1bn at the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria in September. The Global Fund, founded in 2002, has proved an effective conduit through which to combine efforts internationally and drive down costs, thanks in particular to leadership shown by our former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell.

Speaking in December at the launch of the WHO’s World Malaria Report in London, Priti Patel said: “The work that the United Kingdom is doing, the leadership role in particular the UK is playing, is part of that global effort to tackle malaria… Now is our opportunity to keep the momentum going and to keep the ambition high.”

Since 2000, the UK has played a major role in cutting malaria deaths by 60% – saving over 6.8 million lives. The number of malaria cases has fallen by 41%, and 17 countries have eliminated malaria entirely. We are on track to eliminate malaria in ten more countries by 2020.

But with an estimated 212 million cases of malaria last year and half a million deaths, there is still much work to be done.

As the Prime Minister highlighted in her Philadelphia speech, a Global Britain must be ambitious for trade, strong on defence and committed to foreign aid: our 0.7% GDP commitment is a vital part of how we promote British interests and British values abroad.

Thanks to recent YouGov polling, we know that the public agrees too. 53% of Conservative voters agree that “it is right that the UK plays its part in leading the fight to end malaria within a generation” and 52% of Conservative voters want to see this achieved in their lifetime.

Better health in developing countries not only saves lives, but enables them to become more prosperous and self-sufficient. Nobel laureates of the Copenhagen Consensus have estimate that every $1 spent against malaria generates $36 in social and economic benefits – returning children to school, adults to work and boosting productivity.

We can be proud that UK investment and innovation is saving lives every day and has been critical to the remarkable progress made in fighting this deadly disease."

Save the date: World Malaria Day is coming up on Tuesday 25th April.